members of Hatteras village gathered on a stormy Saturday afternoon to
celebrate the upcoming opening of the new PORT Health Services site,
which will provide substance abuse and mental health services on
being relocated at the last minute to the Hatteras Village Community
Center due to the rough weather, the celebration attracted more than 80
attendees who came to show their support for the completion of the
months-long endeavor to make mental health services more accessible to
new PORT Health Services site will be housed within the former Hatteras
Medical Center building in the heart of Hatteras village, and will
initially provide group treatment, individual treatment, and doctor’s
appointments several times per week, saving islanders in need of
substance abuse help hours of travel time to obtain these services in
you need treatment, you need to [schedule] up to three to nine hours
per week,” said Michelle Hawbaker, Program Supervisor at PORT Health
Services at the Saturday gathering. “And when you add a three hour
round trip on top of that, it’s like climbing Mount Everest.”
opening of the new PORT Health center in Hatteras village was a group
collaboration between PORT Health, the Dare County Board of
Commissioners, County Manager Bobby Outten, and local resident Wendy
Stowe Sisler, who lost her 31-year-old son, Cory, in December of 2017
after a long struggle with substance abuse.
“There has just been so much help along the way,” said Hawbaker.
initiative to create a stand-alone mental health services site began
when Hawbaker received feedback that the former small shared PORT
Health office in Frisco was inadequate for the island’s needs. “The
space was not suited for what we wanted,” said Hawbaker.
with Wendy, local volunteers, PORT staff, and the county, plans
developed to utilize the empty Hatteras Medical Center as a new PORT
Health office dedicated to local treatment.
want everyone in this room to understand how blessed we are to have our
county commissioners,” said Hawbaker. “We didn’t have to explain why we
needed it – they just [stepped up to the plate.]”
From there, months of work went into revitalizing the 60-year-old structure to make it conducive for its new purpose.
building was built in 1958, and it had amazing bones, but a number of
things had to be done to make it welcoming,” said Hawbaker. “God
directly sent me help in the form of the Sisler family – they used
their grief to [make a difference.]”
Sisler family raised an estimated $21,500 in pledges and donations, and
Wendy herself helped with the interior design of the new site,
enlisting assistance from local artists, carpenters, and other
residents who were more than happy to assist with the renovation.
“As a community, Hatteras has responded to the call, and I can’t thank you enough,” said Hawbaker.
official opening of the new PORT Health site is scheduled in the
immediate future, after IT equipment is installed this week, and a
“Meet and Greet” is planned at the site with county and PORT Health
representatives on Wednesday, November 28.
Saturday’s celebration was about the hard work that the village put
into transforming the site, and attendees were thanked for their
efforts via a massive meal that was generously provided by donations
from Sea Country Homes OBX, Village Red and White, and Todd Balance.
prominently, the celebration was to honor Cory, whose story helped to
launch the new center, and whose brother, Harley Sisler, spoke to the
crowd at the event.
objective is super clear – to save lives. And it will take a village,”
he said. “We’re all in this together, and we’ve all experienced this
pain. It’s not just Cory, and it’s not just our family.”
“If we save one soul, it would have been worth it, and the center next door is dedicated in Cory’s memory."