Wise retires from West Sound Treatment Center

Wise For the past 14 years John Wise, the executive director of West Sound Treatment Center, has devoted a large part of his life to helping those recovering from an addiction. After serving his community, Wise will retire at the end of the year. Whether dealing with clients who have drug or alcohol addictions or are domestic violence offenders, Wise has always been there to help.

Prior to working at West Sound Treatment Center, he worked for Greater Lakes Mental Health and the Puyallup Tribe in Tacoma. He came to Washington from Arizona, where he worked for a number of Native American Tribes in mental health administration.

After a 30-year career in mental health, Wise still smiles and laughs often. He got his start after getting his GED while serving in the U.S. Navy. After getting a four-year degree in counseling, Wise moved on to getting his master in mental health administration. “I have a feel for people’s behaviors and emotions,” Wise said about his decision to work in mental health.

He has played a major role in creating West Sound Treatment Center. When he took over in 1992, there were no assets, and the facility, then known as Awareness Express, had been embezzled. Most of the staff had quit and the facility was in debt $60,000 or $70,000.

Wise and his new staff along with a CPA who was doing community service time got the facility rolling in a small, rat infested, white house. The CPA helped West Sound Treatment Center adapt a computer system and get out of debt. After moving the facility a few times due to cost of rent and a need for more space, Wise and the board of directors decided that building a facility would be the best fit.

After getting grants and funding, the West Sound Treatment Center moved to its current location on Lumsden Road in Port Orchard. The building, named in part after Wise, is one of his proudest achievements along with building the agency from less than nothing. He said he has to keep a great sense of humor and can’t get too serious about things during the stressful times that he overcame at the West Sound Treatment Center. One thing Wise is serious about is helping people. Wise and West Sound Treatment Center hold the same goal to treat a person, not to treat diseases.

The West Sound Treatment Center has a three-phase program to help addicts overcome their addictions. One thing that Wise feels important when hiring new staff is that they must care about people and be willing to build relationships. Their job is giving clients the tools to walk away and stay sober by breaking down the phases into steps so that clients understand. The center also focuses on giving clients a plan after treatment.

The one thing that he wants to work on is to keep clients in the facility to get help for all their needs. He wants all the mental health work along with social services to be available for clients under one roof. “We want to be a place where we don’t have to send someone somewhere else,” Wise said.

He will not be out of the loop completely after retiring. He has been working on another career — artwork. A few of his paintings can be found in the halls and offices at the facility. Wise is also proud of two paintings that were displayed at the Puyallup Fair. Along with his painting, which he wants to be his main focus, He plans on helping out at the center when needed. He is contracted to work for one group a week.

Wise plans on taking it easy as much as possible. “Only as busy as I want to be. My major focus is on art,” he said.

Robin Lund will be the new executive director, but the staff at West Sound Treatment Center and the Board of Directors said they all want to wish Wise well and thank him for his many years of service.