Ojai residents Heidi Allison and Larry Rhodes plan to continue their son Nate Rhodes’ business by opening a health center for young people with substance abuse and mental health problems.
Graduate of Nordhof High School, Nate Rhodes He died in January after a car accident in Oxnard. The 21-year-old was a certified fitness trainer who used his talents to help others.
The nonprofit organization his parents set up in his name, Nate’s Place, will provide peer support coaches for recovery, counseling, therapy, and an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting venue for teens and young adults ages 13 to 25.
Alison said her son would be humbled by the effort to make Nate’s Place a reality.
“We have all these volunteers, all these Nate friends. People are really excited to help,” Allison said. “They really loved him. What’s so funny that Nate was such a humble guy. He’d be like, ‘What the heck?’ Then he will go pump iron.
Rhodes’ parents plan a Sunday fundraiser with concert performances and food to buy at Nordhof High School to raise money for Nate Place.
Rhodes, who graduated from Nordhof in 2019, overcame drug addiction to become a fitness coach.
On January 20, Rhodes’s car crashed around 10:15 a.m. into a semi-truck that was turning in reverse on Victoria Street near Doris Street in Oxnard, according to the Oxnard Police Department. Rhodes died five days later and became an organ donor.
Oxnard Police Department Corporal. Mike Wood said Tuesday that the case is under review by the Ventura County District Attorney’s office for any criminal charges. No more information has been released. A lawyer from the attorney general’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Last week, Ojai City Council declared September 25th Nate Rhodes Day.
Council member Randy Haney said Rhodes was “an inspiring young man that our community lost very early on,” adding that he “overcame a series of challenges to help others and continues to do so through his legacy.”
Mayor Betsy Stakes added that “by the end of high school, Nate was a personal trainer at a local gym and spent hours cheering on other young people, especially those who had become sober recently and were an inspiration to everyone who knew him.”
Singer-songwriter Ventura Kyle SmithRhodes, former peer recovery coach, will headline the fundraiser at 3 p.m. with a mix of reggae and rock. Tickets are $20. Spencer Makenzie will also provide food for purchase.
“Our goal is to try and fill the stadium,” Allison said. “Nate has played football there for four years, so it has some real meaning and all of the proceeds will go to Nate Place.”
Other artists include singer and actress Emily Rex Hahn, who will perform “First Friend,” a song written about Rhodes. KNG.KAI, Nate’s childhood friend Kayuna Reyes will perform a song called “Nate’s WRLD.”
The wellness center is located at 3840 Channel Islands Blvd. At Fisherman’s Wharf in Oxnard.
After making some repairs to the building, Alison said it will move in on November 1 and open at the end of January. A passenger van was recently purchased to ferry vulnerable children from Ojai to Nate’s Place twice a week and once during the weekend, she said.
Allison said Nate’s Place has partnerships with Nordhoff High School and Oxnard Union High School District.
Allison said the health center also has a partnership with the addiction clinic at Ventura County Medical Center to conduct physical examinations and drug-assisted treatment.
“This fall, we’re going to be hiring peer recovery coaches and doing coaching, and we need donors,” Allison said.
On October 8th at Walter Moranda Park in Port Huenem, she said, there will be a pickle ball fundraiser at Nate’s Place in hopes of making it an annual event.
A ping pong tournament is tentatively scheduled for December.
Allison said she is confident they will have clients as they connect with low-income residents.
“We’re really hoping to get bigger donors,” Allison said. “Maybe they have a loved one or someone who has been affected by addiction or organ transplants.”
Allison said people who want to get treatment can use Medi-Cal funding or pay a low-cost fee.
In addition to providing advice, Nate’s Place will also offer weight lighting, music, art therapy, billiards, rock climbing, kayaking, and table tennis.
For more information visit natesplacewellnesscenter.org Or call 805-628-2552.
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