On November 8th, ForKids will kick off the grand opening of its $2.25 million Suffolk Regional Services Center serving the 1400-mile service area of Suffolk, Franklin, Smithfield and Isle of Wight and Southampton Counties. This is the first of two projects associated with the 5-year, $15 million The Campaign ForKids.
Leading the evening’s events will be George Y. Birdsong, Chair of the ForKids Suffolk Capital Campaign Committee and CEO of Birdsong Peanuts; Delegate S. Chris Jones, Virginia House of Delegates; Rick Clarke, ForKids Board Chair and President of MANCON; and Thaler McCormick, CEO of ForKids.
With a fundraising goal of $2.25 million, the 7,000 square-foot project has allowed ForKids to dramatically expand educational facilities for homeless and formerly homeless children of Suffolk and Western Tidewater. The trauma-informed Center provides space for distinct classrooms, donation distribution and volunteers, as well as designated room for community partners to offer services to ForKids families. While it does not include an overnight shelter, the space will house job coaches, mental health professionals and case managers handling services and housing placement for 30-35 families daily.
ForKids’ goal was to create a trauma-informed space that is engaging to children, parents and volunteers. CEO Thaler McCormick believes they have accomplished their mission. “The space is joyful, full of light and greenery, and wherever you turn, you see art. It is a hopeful place for our children to learn and our families to start over.”
For the past 10 years, ForKids’ Suffolk staff worked out of the old Suffolk Homeless Shelter on Finney Road, which they acquired in 2008. The building design and its location in a challenging neighborhood off the main thoroughfare created hindrances not only for the staff but also for families seeking services, volunteers and donation drop offs.
The Suffolk Center is part of an overall $15+ million capital campaign, The Campaign ForKids, chaired by Frank Batten, Jr., which includes a new regional headquarters to be constructed in the South Norfolk community of Chesapeake. That $12+ million project is due to begin in early 2019.