New center aims at helping people find their true purpose

MOLINE — Standing in the waiting room of his PURPOSE Life Learning and Wellness Center, Ben Layer extolled the vision of his pals Blake Humphrey and Adam Bain.

“You can see what they saw in this amazing facility,” said Layer, 36, a longtime psychologist for Moline and Davenport school districts. “I’m so thankful they let me in on the ground floor. Well, not the ground floor, but you know what I mean.”

Layer’s PURPOSE Life Learning and Wellness Center will occupy the third floor of what used to be the Scottish Rite Cathedral at 1800 7th Ave., Moline. The landmark was bought earlier this year by Humphrey and Bain. It also will house The Spotlight Theatre and Events Center run by Brett and Sara Tubbs.

“When I talked with ‘Bainer’ and shared the vision I had, he told me what they could offer me to live out my dream. And here I am,” Layer said. “Please count me among the fortunate.”

When PURPOSE opens, Layer — who holds a double master’s degree in school and children’s psychology from Winthrop University — will have 5,000 square feet of space. The East Moline man said the building’s third floor — including a 50-seat auditorium and meeting room — will be used for a variety of wellness options, including individual, group and conference work.

“Room to learn and room to grow,” Layer said of the expansive setting that will play host to his first position outside the educational field. ‘’Lots of space and so many ideas. Sometime this month we will start providing services.”

For 13 years, Layer served the educational side of his field. PURPOSE will be different from mainstream educational, mental health and wellness systems, he said. The goal is to reach people of all ages and work to meet their wellness needs.

“This is not school-, church-, or law-enforcement-affiliated,” he said. “It is an organization focused on wellness and independent action plans for life health and global performance. It’s coaching strategies focused on instilling value and hope with individuals and families to help make a lasting difference to live out their true purpose.”

Though grateful for those he worked for and with during his years as a school psychologist, Layer said the time is now to chase his own dreams and goals.

“Meetings, paperwork and red tape keep you — at times — from having the kind of impact you want to have on kids,” Layer said of the role of a school psychologist.

“I know you cannot be all things to all people, but you can be everything to some,” he said. “Empowering humans creates healthier schools, homes and communities.”

Layer said he called on the help of two experts in his a leap of business faith: his father, Steve, retired CEO of Rock Valley Physical Therapy, and Mike Bell, CEO of Andalusia Community Bank.

“I played baseball for Coach Bell and have trusted him with a variety of matters through the years,” Layer said. “His financial expertise has been amazing. No stone, thanks to him, has been unturned.

“And my dad — I watched him work all those years, doing things the right way, treating people with such respect to make his business a success,” he said. “You take things from everyone along the way to better yourself, and those are two of the best.”

If passion, desire and timing are worth anything, Steve Layer said, his son has a recipe for success.

“It is not easy being in business, but I see a passion in the way that Ben goes about things,” Steve Layer said. “I admire his sincerity to do things right, and there is a willingness — as the guy making the decisions — to resolve issues and problems.”

For now, Ben Layer said, PURPOSE will be a one-man show, though he expects to add to the firm.

“You want to grow, but you cannot be in too big of a hurry,” he said. “You have to establish where you stand in the community, have some success, and then move forward. I believe we have all the right tools.”

And the right guy at the helm.

Columnist John Marx can be reached at 309-757-8388 or jmarx@qconline.com.

Ben LayerPurpose.