Nearly 420 people gathered into the parking lot of the new Virginia Garcia Wellness Center for the official Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on Friday, Oct. 19. Community members and staff gathered under tents to listen to speakers, and later had the opportunity to witness the ribbon cutting and tour the brand new building that has been being planned since 2008.

While at the event, people walked around the new building and were able to go to a number of demonstrations including physical therapy screenings, Oregon Food bank kitchen classes and Zumba and Tai Chi classes.

The new Virginia Garcia building was created to promote wellness and sustainability and includes a commercial teaching kitchen, exercise space and Pacific’s new Optometry Clinic. Pacific’s Physical Therapy program will also be working at the Cornelius location as well as in Hillsboro.

Originally in 2008 the Wellness Center plans were sent to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to be funded, but were later denied.

According to Virginia Garcia Memorial Foundation Executive Director, Christine Rontal, the process was very competitive and that is why she thinks they didn’t get funded.

Later though, after the Affordable Care Act was passed the foundation learned they had been funded in October 2010, when Rontal said they started working in full force to get the building up.

The $13.7 million project was funded mostly by the $12 million federal grant, and numerous private parties donated the rest to the Virginia Garcia Memorial Foundation.

The CEO of the foundation, Gil Muñoz, ended the speeches at the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony by saying that three years ago to the date was when he and staff from the Virginia Garcia Memorial Foundation were looking at the empty parking lot, where everyone now stood, starting to plan the Wellness Center.

The Cornelius Wellness center will start seeing patients on Oct. 29 and Pacific has now been partnering with the Virginia Garcia Memorial Foundation for more than 20 years.

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