On Tuesday, board members from REACH announced plans to begin a capital campaign in order to raise funds for a new domestic violence shelter that is projected to be constructed by the end of 2015.
At a price tag of $1.2 million and an awarded state grant of $900,000, the campaign will seek to raise the remaining $300,000.
According to board president Bonnie Peggs, the current shelter has six bedrooms for victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault. The new shelter will have 10 bedrooms, each having two beds and a connecting door to an adjacent bedroom so that the bedrooms can be used to serve larger families who may require two bedrooms.
“One of the worst feelings you can have is having to turn somebody away because there are not enough rooms,” said Peggs.
The new shelter will also have a great room, kitchen, two dining areas, children's play room, a conference room, a staff office, laundry room, resident storage closets, an outside fenced play area, and a covered patio. To make the facility safe to those who seek shelter there, it will also have controlled access, security monitoring, full sprinkler system, and 24/7 staffing.
Though the location of the shelter will be kept confidential for safety purposes, the plans as of now are for it to be located closer to town than the one now. The hope is that a more convenient location will have a positive impact on a victim's ability to secure resources and meet their personal goals in their movement toward self sufficiency and violence-free homes.
“Our organization tries to break the cycle of violence,” said Peggs when referring to a tendency that some clients have to go back to an abusive situation. “These people aren't getting mugged in a parking lot somewhere. The abuse is coming from somebody that they love and who loves them usually. Violence is often normal for them.”
From August 1, 2013, through January 31, 2014, REACH provided services and assistance to 242 unduplicated victims in Macon County and 119 in Jackson County. Of those served in Macon, 15 percent of those victims came from Highlands.
“This is why we want people to realize that this shelter affects the whole area,” Board member Cindy Trevathan said.
With the awarded N.C. Housing Finance Agency for Supportive Housing grant totaling $908,555, the organization is hoping to raise the remaining $302,852 needed for construction by focusing on collecting private contributions and foundation grants. The capital campaign will offer naming opportunities for individuals or groups, beginning at $2,500.
“The way this grant works from the state is that we get the 75 percent loan that basically doesn't have to be repaid, but in order to get it, we have to show that the community is involved with raising the other 25 percent,” said Trevathan.
How REACH began in Macon County
Macon Outreach began in November 1987 with six volunteers trained in crisis intervention services. Initially the organization assisted clients with supportive services who were then transferred to a shelter in Jackson County. On Jan. 31, 1990, REACH of Macon County was incorporated and in September 1990, it opened up its current shelter.
The new shelter is projected to be finished in 2015 which will mark the 25th anniversary of the organization providing services for victims.
“We're looking forward to celebrating our 25th anniversary by opening up our new shelter,” said Peggs.
More information about the capital campaign can be found at http://www.reachofmaconcounty.org/.