Underneath dripping-wet, white canopies, with bright orange loaders in the peripheral, more than 100 community members came to celebrate the groundbreaking of HOPE Community Resources Inc.’s new community recreation center on Tuesday.
“It’s really more of a foundation-pouring party,” Hope Development Director Jennifer Harrington said with a laugh, standing beside the filled-in groundwork of the soon-to-be 4,500-square-foot center.
Construction will continue on through the winter months, regardless of weather and cold, Harrington said. The finish date is ultimately contingent on when the remaining funding comes in.
The $1.5 million project will require $765,000 more to complete, Harrington said. HOPE has two potential grants from Rasmuson Foundation and MJ Murdock Charitable Trust, but the remaining $65,000 will have to come directly from donations from individuals, corporations and foundations.
“So far public donations are at about $10,000,” Harrington said. “It has been amazing.”
HOPE began fundraising publicly at the beginning of August.
The state of Alaska allocated monies, and HOPE spent $300,000 for the first $735,000 that got the project started, Harrington said. AK Mental Health Trust also provided a portion of funds.
Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre and HOPE’s executive director Stephen Lesko spoke at the groundbreaking Tuesday, Harrington said. Navarre and HOPE’s senior deputy director Michele Girault both donated $1,000 to HOPE for the event, she said.
Lesko spoke about the importance of inclusion of community members with disabilities and the importance of providing education and resources to effectively do so.
Representatives from Frontier Community Services, Kenai Economic Development District, clients of HOPE, community and family, watched.
The number of clients HOPE has served every year has increased by 11 percent, Harrington said in a previous Clarion interview. Organizations and community members that work closely with Hope were asked to provide letters of support to assist in getting funding.
“The growth rate has been pretty enormous,” Harrington said. “The Kenai Peninsula HOPE serves 150 people right now.”
That number is projected to grow by 34 percent over the next four years, Harrington said.
Kenai Peninsula Director of Community Support Holly Scott said she sees the new building as another venue for great activities.
“It will be a great place for people to make art and music and long lasting friendships,” Scott said.
Kelly Sullivan can be reached at email@example.com.