Santa Rosa Kids’ House was the enthusiastic recipient of an IMPACT 100 Pensacola Bay Area Grant in 2017, and as a result we were able to begin our exciting “journey to healing.” The entire board and staff of the Santa Rosa Kids’ House swung into action. Our board chairman, Wendell Hall, immediately began working with our contractor to finalize plans for the new therapy building we proposed in the grant application. We were going to construct a 1,500 square foot building in the backyard area of our current building.
During the planning phase, however, we received some settlement money from a claim we filed with BP to recover our loss of revenue after the infamous oil spill. The additional funding allowed us to expand our plans, and so we came up with the idea of possibly purchasing the land adjacent to our property. We approached the owners of that property and found they were happy to sell their land to us. Armed with some cash and big dreams, we began the process of negotiations. This change in plans caused a delay in plans and permits.
After the purchase of the property, we worked with an architect to design a 3,000 square foot building (twice the size of the original plans) to allow for more therapy space and a training room. The first step, after getting the design approved, was to demolish the existing structure on the property. Excitement was the order of the day as the old house on our new lot was torn down and hauled away.
The framing went up, the roof went on, walls were constructed and painted, flooring installed, and the doors and windows were added. We only had two years to complete the project and spend the grant money so we were eagerly waiting for completion.
Finally, the building was completed, and the grand opening scheduled for September this year. At the grand opening and ribbon cutting, Board Chairman Wendell Hall thanked IMPACT 100 for providing the funding for the new building. We excitedly gave tours of the building. Much to our surprise, approximately 200 people were at the opening and numerous people came with checks in hand to donate to the Santa Rosa Kids’ House. We consider the generous donations from the community as one of the impacts of IMPACT 100.
Santa Rosa Kids’ House new Therapy Building was finally open to serve our community! We began serving children the same week as the Grand Opening, in the quiet and relaxing new facility. Our therapy room is large with play therapy toys, a light-up bubble machine, comfortable chairs, soft lighting and all the comforts of a child-friendly environment. Our additional therapy rooms for the older kids are also softly lit, comfortable and adolescent friendly. Our new lobby hosts families who are on their way to healing. In October 2019 we served 57 children in the new therapy building, and we expect those numbers to grow.
Now that the new therapy building is open, we continue to receive generous donations from people in the community. Being the recipient of an IMPACT 100 grant has opened many doors for us and we are very appreciative. The new therapy building is allowing the healing process for the abused children to be accomplished in a more child friendly environment. The new facility allows the Santa Rosa Kids’ House to shield the children who have been in therapy for an extended period from interaction with children who have recently been abused and are just starting the healing process. This separation is paramount in helping the children recover from their abuse.
The Santa Rosa Kids’ House and the entire community is a better place thanks to the generosity of the ladies of IMPACT 100 Pensacola Bay Area. We are forever thankful to IMPACT 100. If you would like to learn more about IMPACT 100, please visit www.impact100pensacola.org.
Connie Cushing is treasurer of the Santa Rosa Kids House Board of Directors.
Connie Cushing, Guest columnist, Pensacola News Journal Published 8:45 a.m. CT Feb. 21, 2020