New Hope Children's Advocacy Center artist rendering

Groundbreaking for the 8,500-square-foot New Hope Blount County Children’s Advocacy Center facility is expected to take place at mid-year.

Talk about a kick-start for the kids. When New Hope Blount County Children’s Advocacy Center set a goal of $1.25 million to build a new facility it set the bar just high enough to get the building done and for necessary furnishings — and that was it.

Preparations are underway to break ground on a new building in mid-2018. Now the plan is to do even more.

The “Let Me Be Heard” campaign was announced at the center’s 15th annual Black Tie Blue Jean Gala in November. Mary Celeste Beall, proprietor of Blackberry Farm, served as the honorary chair. Lead gifts from Clayton Homes and the Blackberry Farm Foundation, along with other generous partners, provided a huge lift to open the drive.

“It means a lot to me to participate in this campaign,” Beall said. “Making a few phone calls and helping in the efforts to raise money is a small task compared to the services and help that New Hope provides to area children every day. I am thankful for their efforts and really pleased to be able to support such a wonderful initiative.”

The building fund drive was such a success, meeting the campaign goal within weeks, that Executive Director Tabitha Damron said New Hope is focusing now on a community campaign to ensure New Hope’s future will be secure when economic times are not so rosy.

In fact, the current partial federal government shutdown means two members of New Hope’s staff will lose funding for their positions, at least temporarily. From the community campaign, Damron said New Hope’s goal is to acquire enough money to operate for six months in case state and federal funds are eliminated.

In addition, the campaign will allow for improvements to the new building, providing for better security, maintenance expenses and incidentals such as pictures for the walls.

10 years in

the making

Damron and former Executive Director Trudy Hughes have known for more than a decade that New Hope needed additional space in order to serve all of the children of Blount County and have the entire team in one building to provide those services.

“After years of looking, planning and making offers on existing buildings, we decided to build,” said Bill Pope, board member and campaign chair.

Damron and Hughes unveiled the building design during the gala, and the audience experienced a virtual tour of the exterior of the 8500-square-foot design. Currently, New Hope occupies two former residential buildings, which includes space for the Department of Children’s Services Office. The new building will also include offices for law enforcement and a representative of the District Attorney General’s Office.

Given the nature of its services, New Hope prefers not to publicize the location of its planned facility.

15-year anniversary

Damron said that with New Hope celebrating its 15th anniversary, the Blount County Children’s Advocacy Center is looking forward to the next 15 years, and many more in the new facility.

Beyond the community campaign, the gala and all other fundraising activities will continue to support New Hope’s mission to provide physically and sexually abused children with counseling and other services.

Each year, more than 350 children enter the doors of New Hope clinging to hope, which is all they have left. Hope that there will be someone who will listen, hope that there will be justice, hope for healing and hope for a brighter future.

It all begins with an abused child being able to share one story, one time, one place. In Blount County, that place is New Hope Children’s Advocacy Center.

Bob has served in a variety of roles since joining The Daily Times in the 90s. He currently is editor of the business section. When someone gets promoted, retires or gets hired at a new job in Blount County, he's the man to email.

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