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Heather Boll and wellness specialists outside The Hive, which holds its grand opening this Friday. From left are Rachel Swanson, Shelly Storms-Fruehling, Tiffany Splettstoeszer, Heather Boll, Stacy Zellmann, Anisha Mueller and Jessica Pavelko (Submitted photo)

“I’m fine.”

That’s likely the response you will get from most Minnesota women these days when you ask, “How are you?”

It’s not the truth, says Heather Boll, who has waded through her own mental health issues, and is now a state certified mental health peer support specialist and nationally recognized speaker. Many women are working from home, taking care of kids, managing the household and managing the mental health of everyone except themselves during this pandemic.

“I am one of them and I know countless other women in my shoes,” Boll said. “And, while we may be able to cope, there are many women starting to experience anxiety, panic attacks and initial signs the pandemic is taking a toll on their wellbeing. The problem is only going to get worse.

Thankfully there is a new, unique option opening up this month on Main Street in Waconia. It’s called The Hive and is dedicated to supporting women wherever they are in their journey in life. The motto is: “Life will sting. Community will heal.” The idea is to expand The Hive concept beyond Waconia to neighborhoods all over the Twin Cities where women could benefit from support of women who have “been there too.”

The Hive is not a collection of doctors or psychologists, instead it is a group of state certified peer providers and wellness specialists – all from the immediate area – who together have battled all of the following: abusive relationships, suicidal thoughts, depression/anxiety, eating disorders, addiction, or divorce.

“Every one of us has been in the hole,” says Boll, director of The Hive. “We jump down with you and crawl out together.”

The Hive holds daily and weekly “circles,” or gatherings led by a peer specialist focused on a variety of topics including mental wellness, exhausted moms, moms of special needs children, business-minded women and even a general Waconia women’s support circle.

Membership options allow all levels of care and 24/7 access to wellness amenities along with classes, workshops and group activities.

Many women find different “ways of numbing” to manage mental health issues and anxiety, Boll notes. For some, it’s crying in the car while driving around, or seated in an empty parking lot. For others, it’s something harsher like drugs or alcohol.

Essentially, The Hive is a safe, affordable space for women to find support, peace and the knowledge that they are not alone.

Hive director Boll also is owner of Heal Her Peer Support, her first mental health support endeavor which she started three years ago. She also is on the Carver County Mental Health Advisory Committee and is connected with other mental health organizations to refer women for additional help and support.

The Hive is located at 29 East Main in a historic blue house that has been a residence, and also home over the years to an accounting firm and other commercial operations.

When she was younger, Boll worked next door at what had been Wedin photo studio, and says, “I’ve had my eye on that blue house for years. I just knew it was the place for me.”

She and her husband, who live in New Germany, acquired the building this spring and spent several weeks upgrading and furnishing it into a nurturing space for women.

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