KINGSPORT – Girls, Inc. has launched a multi-million dollar fundraising campaign to renovate and expand its neighborhood Cloud facility.
The effort kicked off last week at a Fan Appreciation and Giving Celebration, where Girls, Inc. employees and supporters came together to recognize outstanding volunteers and celebrate the accomplishments of the past year. .
Julie Wright-Short, who has served as executive director of Girls, Inc. for the past 15 years, said the campaign’s overall goal is to raise $ 3 million over the next five years.
“We just want to hit that first million because then we can really start moving,” Wright-Short said of the campaign. “And we have to be in the neighborhood we serve. It’s going to take this whole community to help us. What we want is a place that will last, and our daughters deserve a place they can be proud of.
The plan calls for renovating the original 11,000 square foot building and adding 15,000 square feet of additional space. The new upgraded facility would then include a full-size gym, a dedicated classroom for all age groups, a STEM room, an arts room, a library and digital media lab, a sensory room, a teens lounge. and a safe and accessible playground.
The new facility would still be on one level, reoriented towards Dorothy Street.
Wright-Short has said she would like it all to be over by the end of 2025.
“We are taking an important step tonight to make a difference in the lives of the girls in this community,” she said. “It will be a trip, but it’s a trip our daughters deserve.”
DEVELOPING FOR THE FUTURE
Emily Thompson, a longtime Girls, Inc. volunteer and board member, received a call from her husband on July 20 saying there was a fire in the building. Naturally, panic ensued and she and Wright-Short ran over to the facility to see what was going on.
“All we saw were fire trucks and we didn’t know what was on the other side,” Thompson told the audience at last week’s celebration.
It turned out that neighborhood children were setting fireworks, and the building’s back porch caught fire. The Kingsport Fire Department responded quickly and extinguished the blaze.
If the fire had been two feet above, the building would have disappeared, Thompson said.
“The pandemic made it difficult, but what it made us see is the importance of this building and how it houses every girl who passed through it,” Thompson said.
“And I said, ‘We have to have a new building,'” Wright-Short remembers telling Thompson.
In addition to the fire, Girls, Inc. has had some bad experiences with thieves this year. Someone stole a mower from the warehouse, and others managed to break into the building and get the keys to the pickup truck.
“We really need a safe place with good fire alarms,” Wright-Short said.
Girls, Inc. serves about 90 girls at any given time and the facility can accommodate up to 125. Once the renovation and expansion is complete, the organization will be able to handle at least 250 girls, Wright estimated. -Shorts.
“I am delighted that our daughters have a building they deserve, that they are proud of, that is clean, neat and secure with a safe and accessible playground,” she noted. “We have to make this place a place that girls will be proud of. “
ABOUT THE GIRLS, INC.
Girls, Inc. is a national non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring and building confidence in girls. Its roots go back to the middle of the 19th century and the organization was officially established in 1945.
Today, Girls, Inc. has chapters in all 50 states and across Canada, providing education and life skills programs to over 140,000 young women each year.
In Kingsport, the Civic Club for Business and Professional Women got together over 50 years ago and decided that as similar clubs were forming in other parts of the country, the model town needed them as well. .
Originally founded as the Kingsport Girls Club, the local chapter opened in 1965.
At last week’s celebration, Girls, Inc. honored Betty Iverson with the 2021 Living Legacy Award. Iverson was Director of the Kingsport Girls Club from 1967 to 1979 and led the efforts for the construction of the current facility of the The organization’s Cloud neighborhood, which opened in 1973.
“I am here to honor Miss Betty, the first lady of the house. Under his leadership the house was built, ”said Dr. Brenda White-Wright, who served as President and CEO of Girls, Inc. for 20 years. “The lessons on respect, humility, responsibility, responsibility and reliability … have stayed with me throughout my life. These are also principles instilled in the members of Girls, Inc. and activated by its mission and programming to inspire all girls to be healthy, educated and independent and to become strong, intelligent and daring.