SALISBURY – Prevent Child Abuse Rowan and the Terrie Hess House celebrated the opening of a newly renovated space at their facility located at 130 Woodson St. on Thursday with a ribbon-cutting and tour.
“This is such an incredible moment for us. We have an incredible board and an incredible staff,” Executive Director Beth McKeithan said during opening remarks.
According to McKeithan, almost 1,600 square feet of building space was added on the property. The project took about two and half years to complete, when fundraising and construction are included. The facility is now approximately 3,200 square feet.
The new facility has added a dedicated mental health space, with a separate, secure entrance and waiting area. The new space doubles the group’s ability to serve clients while ensuring privacy for children and families.
“We saw the need to really renovate, upgrade and update the space,” McKeithan said. “We were essentially on top of each other. It was a big time juggling game and a lot of after hours appointments to make sure that everyone was seen in a timely matter. When kids come in and they’re going through this, they need privacy, and this gives them their privacy.”
In 2016, the board of Prevent Child Abuse Rowan rolled out its plan for a capital campaign to raise $400,000 to expand its facility.
“With the help of this loving community in Rowan County, the agency raised all of the funds by April of 2019,” said a news release from the agency.
The addition included new office space, meeting and interview rooms, renovations to the family room, a child medical examine room, and an outreach and prevention office.
Prevent Child Abuse Rowan operates the Terrie Hess House Child Advocacy Center as part of its mission to stop child abuse in Rowan County.
The center provides a child-friendly environment where child victims of sexual and physical abuse up to age 17 and non-offending caregivers can receive services. Those services include family advocacy, mental health interventions, medical evaluations, forensic interviewing and medical exams by a trained pediatrician and support staff.
All services are provided at no cost to clients and their families.
The facility offers a room where children can be interviewed and recorded in order to make the process easier. The group also offers gifts such as a toy or prize for children who come in.
“It’s been a dream to have a space like this. It’s important for us to be able to provide a space for us to have services that are all free for the families so they never have to worry about payment so that these kids get better to go from a traumatized victim to an empowered survivor,” McKeithan said.
Margaret Stridick, parenting programs coordinator, said her role is to “help parents learn different ways of disciplining their children that don’t hurt them and teach them how to keep them safe from other people.”
“While the child is getting therapy in the therapy suite, I can talk with the parents. This saves them time and energy, and we can provide that whole service for them,” Stridick said.
Families need an atmosphere that is calming and soothing, and that’s what the space provides, Stridick said.
Amy Brown, executive director of Smart Start Rowan, a partner of Prevent Child Abuse Rowan, said she thinks the renovations are “beautiful” and “phenomenal” and that she is happy for Prevent Child Abuse Rowan.
“I think the work that they do is much needed in the community that it will allow them to grow in the community and provide the services and be an open door for the community as well to let them know what they’re doing,” Brown said.
Kimberly Brett spoke well of the new facility, too.
“I was really impressed with this space. It’s a safe haven for the kids, a nice place for them to be able to feel comfortable and be at home,” Brett said.
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