Serving as stewards of Cassopolis’ history

Published 4:26 am Friday, November 28, 2003

By By MARCIA STEFFENS / Cassopolis Vigilant
CASSOPOLIS -- Andrew Katovsich's grandmother remembered when Mr. Glen Squires worked at night by candlelight in the two story law offices on Broadway, across the street from the Cass County courthouse.
Now if the lights are burning, they are electric and Bernice Karnafel's grandson is the one working late, with law books still lining the shelves.
His family has been on Diamond Lake for 75 years, said Katovich. "This is home."
When he lived with his parents in South Bend, Ind., Andy joined in his summer community early on, playing the organ for St. Ann's Catholic Church in Cassopolis when he was only 15.
The next year, while a student at Marian Catholic High School, he ended up becoming the music director and choir director at Holy Maternity of Mary Catholic Church in Dowagiac.
There he has remained for 12 years and has served as the director of religious education for the past six years.
While doing his undergraduate study in psychology, he met Rebecca Bennett, who was director of the lab at Indiana University South Bend. "I had my eye on him," said Becky, "in and out of the office."
She hired him to work in the lab and they got married in 1997, after each got a masters, Andy in Community Counseling from Andrews University in Berrien Springs and she in Social Work from Western Michigan University.
Andy is also almost done with his PHD, also from Andrews and Becky will get her doctorate in Counseling Psychology from Andrews this spring.
Becky has worked at Oaklawn Psychiatric Center in Elkhart, Ind. and for the last few years as an Adult Outpatient Therapist at LifeWorks Center in Dowagiac.
Before working full-time at LifeWorks for five years, Andy worked at Charter Behavioral Health System in Mishawaka, Ind.
When Terri and Paul Kitchen of LifeWorks decided to downsize their business, the Katovsichs decided "it was an opportunity to go on own on." They had planned to do so one day, but later on. But, "if it was meant to be, it was the right time," added Andy.
The Kitchens have been supportive and everything has been amiable and in fact Shepard House has become the home for other displaced employees, including Cynthia King, who handles clients' benefits and A. Carol Singler, who will soon finish her doctorate and become a licensed psychologist.
The mixture of their personalities and expertise blends well and everything has gone much better than they could have hoped.
Andrew and his wife, with lots of help from their families, have renovated the old law offices at 107 N. Broadway.
At the same time they opened Shepard House Counseling and Psychological Services in Cassopolis, they also opened a branch in St. Joseph in a Victorian home, which was also used by a lawyer.
That building was known for the man who built it about 1896, named Lloyd Shepard and was known as the Shepard House, so they kept that name, liking what the name connotes.
The two divide their time between the two offices and enjoy working together.
With their agreement to take HMO Medicaid patients and fulfilling a niche for the Family Independence Agency and serving most insurances, it doesn't look like the phone will stop ringing any time soon.
Clinical supervision is by Dr. Dennis Waite of Phoenix Consultation in Berrien Springs.
Where Andy is good with kids, Becky leans toward women's issues. Carol helps many of those with substance problems, and holds support group meetings. Also to be offered at Shepard House are parenting classes.
Andy has worked with teens on anger management and social issues. They are "in the business to serve people," added Andy.
They are also enjoying working for themselves.
Andy grew up with his family owning an industrial sand blasting business in South Bend. His father Tom may have shocked people in Cassopolis as he climbed on the scaffolding while doing the renovations, Andy said, but his dad was used to it.
He remembers him hanging from the Jefferson Street bridge in South Bend, Ind., so a "second story isn't a big deal."
Elaine, beside enjoying finding just the right antiques for both offices, is helping out as secretary. Shirley Chennault of Dowagiac is also working part time in the office.
Having the family pitch in has really saved money. Becky's father, Bruce Bennett, a electrician and her mother, Susan, have also both helped the young couple.
The finished product on North Broadway has to make them all proud. The blend of old and new creates a comfortable atmosphere to put their clients at ease.
The couple lives full time on Diamond Lake now, in a home next to Andy's parents' cottage, which they used to rent out.
While still in high school, Andy said, "there was never any question" of what he wanted to do with his life.
After his first introduction to psychology class at Southwestern Michigan College, he confirmed his decision.
He appreciates the people whom surround him. "We have dedicated people working for us," he added. He also has the philosophy they need to be treated well. "It is important to keep them happy. I was taught that as a kid. I was raised that way," showing respect.