Go ahead. use all five of your senses! The mere sight of the new Community Resources Center on the campus of Bashor Children's Home is simply overwhelming. The sound of young people moving through the halls is nothing less than incredible. You can touch the smooth surfaces and glide over the soft carpet and know this is a special place. Even the smell of the freshly painted walls is inspiring. It is the sweet, sweet taste of God's blessings!
"This building means opportunity for me," says Tate Gerndt, who teaches social studies and science to students in Bashor Alternative School. "It is an opportunity for the kids we work with to experience God's love and grace in a fresh setting. The way the organization took a leap of faith in order to begin the building is a wonderful leadership example."
Phase I of the $4.2 million project is complete, providing daily census of 100 residents and day students 11 new classrooms, media center, computer lab, science lab, arts and crafts room, conference areas, group rooms and office space.
Just don't call it a school.
"The only time we can call this a 'school' is during normal school hours," explains Don Phillips, whose vision as president and CEO launched the most ambitious building project in the agency's 85-year history. "The community helped build it, so we want the community to have access to it. Yes, it's a school from 8 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. but after that it's open to just about everything else. There should be as much activity in the evenings as during the school day."
The options are unlimited as Bashor expands its community outreach: parenting classes for residents and families; alternative education for young people and adult education for parents; a place for supports services such as CASA and mentor groups; financial literacy training; and much, much more.
"I hope we get to the point where the only two places in Goshen with longer hours are Dunkin' Donuts and the 7-11 store," laughs Vince Turner, vice president of development and public relations. "We want children and families to see this as a central place for the support services they need to augment their way of life."
Other staff members who call the new building "home" are ecstatic:
"It is an opportunity for expanded services, giving kids a warmer and softer environment. It also set up for more effective supervision."
- Doug Ganger, program director of alternative education.
"Progress! Bashor is moving to provide the environment that will make our residents successful."
- Rhoda Weaver-Watson, science.
"It is a place for kids to prepare for life. The school simulates what they will see when they leave."
- Chris Nesbitt, mathematics.
"A new start for many students who have (struggled) in public school."
- Jennifer Prough, English and physical education.
"It is a chance to give a more 'normal' school experience to the young people in our care."
- Kay McKeown, social studies and child development.
"It's great to know we can stay in one place and not move every couple of years."
- Dale Sleppy, elementary education.
- Mark Adams, behavior specialist.
"It is a fulfillment of patience and the love of God. I have waited for many years for the new building to be built. It has made a great difference for the kids. They feel proud of where they are and they know we love them."
- Jill Stanley, mathematics, art and science.
Bashor Children's Home took a leap of faith with the "Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow" campaign. Groundbreaking took place at virtually the same time fundraising efforts got under way. The campaign continues as students move into the classroom and builders prepare for Phase II - a new 250-seat dining hall and renovated food service facilities. The combined projects, totaling 34,000 square feet, should be completed by September.
"This is a fresh start for our agency," says senior program Director Sean McCrindle. "It's a chance to challenge ourselves to create programs to better serve our kids and families. It is a promise for the future that we will not sit back idly. We will invest great amounts of resources to give them a chance. Most importantly, it is a statement that we live by faith and that we will take huge risks, believing that the resources will come and that God will provide as He always does."
Go ahead - see, hear, touch, smell and taste what God has done!