Local philanthropist Judy Briskin has made a $1.5 million donation to the Maple Counseling Center to fund the Briskin|Wilder Welcome Center, a program at the center’s new location on La Cienega Boulevard. The Welcome Center is designed to help Angelenos in mental health crises locate resources and simplify the process of seeking help.
The Briskin family has been a fixture in Beverly Hills for many years. They have also contributed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Temple Israel of Hollywood, and Venice Family Clinic.
“My late husband Bernie and I have always valued reaching out to the parts of our community that need it most,” Briskin told the Courier. “Right now, mental health care is at the forefront. Everyone knows how desperately needed those services are right now.”
The Maple Counseling Center opened more than five decades ago in response to a substance abuse crisis in Beverly Hills schools. The center now offers individual therapy as well as couples and group coun- seling. The new Welcome Center is not a treatment program in itself; rather, it is a place where patients can contact practitioners and connect with resources throughout Los Angeles.
“This is a continuation and an expansion of the programs that we’ve been offering for 50 years,” said Myra Lurie, Chair of the Maple Counseling Center Board of Directors. “I think in many cases, people aren’t aware of all the resources of Maple Counseling.”
The idea to open a program dedicated to helping others access mental health resources began when Briskin’s son, Rex Wilder, had a mental breakdown in 2018 at the age of 62. After a brief stint in a hospital, Wilder spent two months trying to find a way to get help. He promised himself that he would turn his struggle into a service that would help others.
“I said, I am going to devote my life to making sure everyone gets the advantages I got,” Wilder said. “I was living on a beachfront house in Venice, looking out on all these homeless people who are so far gone, some of them will never get better. I knew the difference between us was money, friendships, the lack thereof for these people.”
The difficult process of finding the right treatment inspired Wilder and Briskin to start the Welcome Center.
“If you go to one bad place and make one bad phone call, or somebody doesn’t return your call, a lot of people just give up,” Wilder said. “That’s the kind of person we are targeting – the person who doesn’t know where to turn to.”
At the Welcome Center, therapists and social workers work with patients individually to better understand what resources they need, then point them in the direction of services offered throughout L.A. County. Patients will primarily interact with around 80 interns who are learning under licensed professionals at the Counseling Center.
Within 48 hours of contacting the Welcome Center, patients undergo an intake process with an intern to pinpoint which resources will help them the most. If a patient calls with an acute crisis that the Center cannot directly treat, such as sub- stance abuse or suicide, a social worker will act as a case manager to direct the patient towards another facility that can help them.
Wilder emphasized that the Welcome Center will not turn anyone away, even if the program cannot directly offer them help.
“We turn no one away,” Wilder said. “If you come to us, it doesn’t matter what you have. We will take care of you.”
The Welcome Center has served more than 300 callers, including nearly 40 callers who were able to take advantage of the new referral process.
Although the Welcome Center has not opened its physical location yet, it opened for telehealth assistance in December.
The Briskin|Wilder Welcome Center will be located inside Maple Counseling’s new headquarters at 1845 S. LA Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles. To connect with the Welcome Center, call 310-271-9999.