FRANKLIN — When life throws you for a loop, there's a place in Milwaukee County specifically designed for you to de-stress and find your zen. Michelle Runte visits the Conservancy for Healing and Heritage in Franklin about once a week.
"It's a place that I can come and just be in the quiet moments of the day," said Runte.
Runte lost her daughter about seven years ago. She comes to the area to remember Kayla's contagious spirit.
"This place is an instrument of peace. It's a space that you can come and really feel comfort," said Runte.
It's also a place Runte and others go to escape.
"Today we live in such noise, and it's a good place to get away from that noise," said Runte.
The Reiman Healing Chapel in the woods was finished in 2016. Dr. Mike Christensen works with cancer patients at neighboring Ascension St. Francis who use the space for support groups.
"A space like this affords our patients the opportunity to come and be mindful and meditative. which has restorative properties," said Christensen.
He said the area outside helps reduce stress and increases immunity. Organizers plan to add a large healing garden and nature trails leading to the lake.
"The land is what really created the mission. The land is historic Ice Age land," said Susan Rabe, the executive director.
Rabe said all 36 acres will serve a purpose. A bird observation deck and a water feature around the chapel are on the list to help visitors heal.
"Any kind of mental, physical, emotional issue," said Rabe.
The Mindful Gratitude Program already uses the current space and Franklin High School uses the area as its outdoor classroom, but Rabe knows there's potential for so much more.
"A lot of people don't know it's here, and so when I get an email or phone call from someone who came and they just love it, ya know it makes my heart smile 'cause that's what it's here for. We really want to help the community," said Rabe.
"This place is an instrument of peace. It's a space that you can come and really feel comfort." — Michelle Runte
The chapel is free and open to the public Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Rabe said the non-profit has raised $4 million, but it still needs $1 million to complete the project. You can learn about the $125,000 challenge grant and more about the Conservancy for Healing and Heritage here.
The city also has to approve the plan. Mayor Steve Olson said the city supports the project, but it could take a few months to get things such as zoning wrapped up.