BARTLESVILLE, Okla. – This week, Ray of Hope Advocacy Center celebrated the completion of their $800,000 Hope Floats Capital Campaign and finalized a contract with Gorman Construction Company to immediately begin the renovation of their new 7400 sq. ft. home.
Exactly one year ago, Ray of Hope launched an “ambitious but achievable” goal to raise funds to renovate the former Grace-Epworth Methodist Church into the non-profit’s new home. The former church is located across the street from Ray of Hope’s current 1600 sq. ft. facility and was donated by East Cross United Methodist Church.
“Our success is a true testament to the incredible generosity and breadth of support from our community and the surrounding area,” Hope Floats Campaign Co-Chair and Ray of Hope Board President Jordan Ihrig said. “Child abuse isn’t easy to face, but the Bartlesville area rose above that fear to protect our children in need. Our response and support for the most innocent victims among us shows the incredible character of our community.”
Ihrig attributes the campaign’s success to the vast number of donors, both large and small, who championed it along the way. “We celebrate every single dollar raised because we feel it is more than money. We see hurting children who need help every day. Each dollar raised was a message that someone believes in these children – someone cares about their protection and path of hope.”
Major donors to the campaign include The Lyon Foundation, The Jeanalee and Charles Parsons Foundation, The Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation, Ruth K. Nelson, The Hale Family Foundation and Truity Credit Union.
“We owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to all of our supporters but especially to The Lyon Foundation,” Ray of Hope Executive Director Rhonda Hudson said. “Their 50 percent match enabled us to move forward quickly with construction and develop space for the programs and partnerships that are ready help area families.”
“The Lyon Foundation chose to support this project because we recognize the need for this service in our community,” Lyon Foundation President John B. Kane said. “When our most innocent are victimized by sexual abuse it take a unique set of skills to help that child through the process of collecting evidence, potentially testifying for the court, and finally helping the child heal both physically and emotionally. We believe that Ray of Hope has proven their value over the years, so we feel privileged to be able to support the vision to expand their ability to meet this growing need in our community.”
Hudson says the future plans focus on continuing Ray of Hope’s current services in a space better suited for the increased need while providing prevention and treatment services to abuse victims. “We will always stay true to our mission to respond well to child abuse victims at their moment of outcry. But to truly break the cycle of abuse, we know we have to wrap hurting children and families with prevention and treatment services. We knew we could do more for these children and are unbelievably grateful the community has provided us the means to make it happen.”
Local architect Dan Keleher worked with Ray of Hope’s board of directors to strategically design the space for current services and necessary growth. In the larger facility, Ray of Hope plans to partner with Samaritan Counseling and Growth Center to provide on-site mental health services including trauma focused counseling for children and families as well as support groups and parenting classes for non-offending caregivers.
“Unfortunately many of the child abuse victims Ray of Hope sees never receive vital counseling following abuse,” Hope Floats Campaign Co-Chair Marice Wasemiller said. “By never fully processing and healing from the trauma of abuse, children are vulnerable to many long-term health risks and poor outcomes. Having accessible counseling in a familiar, child friendly location will increase follow through of mental health referrals. Also, support groups for non-offending caregivers are essential to help them parent through trauma, practice positive parenting skills, learn how to develop healthy support systems and more.”
Other services possible at the new location include an emergency custody clothing closet for children removed from unsafe environments with nothing more than what they are wearing. A conference center allocates space for community education and child advocacy trainings, meetings, support groups and conferences. The new facility design allows for more functional spaces like separate waiting areas for family privacy and individual offices for staff dealing with private and graphic child abuse information and images.
“There are so many great causes that we can support in this community, but none reach my heart like the work performed by Ray of Hope,” Hope Floats Community Chair Bob Fraser said. “Thanks to them, innocent children have hope. Children, families, area foundations and many others responded to the need and helped us reach our goal. I am so proud to be a small part of such a great effort that will continue to make a positive impact on these children. I love how this community continues to step up and make dreams come true!”
Fraser and his 7-year-old grandson, Jack Ihrig, served as Community Chairs for the campaign. The duo raised project funds and awareness of the loving, safe relationships that every child deserves along the way.
“Kids need to feel safe,” Jack Ihrig said. “Ray of Hope is a happy place that helps kids, and the bigger building will let them help more kids who need it. The people are nice and want all kids, just like me, to be loved.”
Following reports of child abuse, Ray of Hope Advocacy Center provides on-site forensic interviews, medical exams, victim advocacy, community education and a coordinated approach among child protection services. The nonprofit brings together representatives from law enforcement, child protection, prosecution, mental health, medical and victim advocacy to all work together to conduct joint forensic interviews and make team decisions about the investigation, treatment, management and prosecution of child abuse cases. Ray of Hope serves families in Washington, Nowata and Osage Counties as well as southern Kansas.
Watch as Jack Ihrig, Campaign Children’s Chair, announces campaign success to his fundraiser partner and grandfather, Bob Fraser. Thank you to all of Ray of Hope’s supporters.