Opinion: Now, more than ever, a good time to be supportiveAbbott House has been a safe haven for abused children for over 69 years. We provide residential and therapeutic services to girls and families in South Dakota and promote healing in all that we do. As an organization we literally are saving lives every day that would otherwise be destined for abuse and in many cases an early death.
By: Eric Klooz, Guest columnist
Abbott House has been a safe haven for abused children for over 69 years. We provide residential and therapeutic services to girls and families in South Dakota and promote healing in all that we do. As an organization we literally are saving lives every day that would otherwise be destined for abuse and in many cases an early death.
Today it seems we are in uncertain times. If you turn on the news you hear about global warming, banks failing, and the stimulus plan. The uncertainty of today makes many people more anxious and some are just scared about their future. As the director of a small nonprofit agency, the events that have unfolded over the past year make me a little uneasy to say the least.
I find it ironic that this is how many of the children we serve here at Abbott House have lived their lives, worried about what is going to happen next. Will mom be there for them? Where will they move me to next? Why do I always mess things up? Does anyone really care about me?
Two years ago, members of the Abbott House Board of Directors, the Abbott House Foundation and key employees held a number of planning meetings to create a new vision for Abbott House. The question that was proposed was “How can Abbott House continue to thrive and best serve the most vulnerable girls in South Dakota?”
From that process the team identified six areas that would move the services offered to a premier level.
1. Create a new living unit for young ladies that would provide more privacy and a safer environment. 2. Build a family care addition that will allow families traveling to Mitchell the ability to come, receive family counseling and stay with their child in a semisupervised setting. 3. Provide additional staffing positions that will allow the agency to provide more specialized services for young ladies who are referred with multiple issues. 4. Renovate the existing building to provide more opportunities for wellness and exercise as well as an area to provide independent living skills instruction. 5. Increase the annual fund. 6. Increase the Abbott House Foundation.
Initially, I can remember feeling a little overwhelmed at the completion of our work and wondered if maybe we had been a little aggressive in our planning process. However, as I thought back on the discussions each item was developed to help provide the services we felt the children needed and deserved. So we had a plan and we began working to further develop our areas of focus. As I began speaking to area groups, my pitch focused on the long term and how we hoped to implement these six strategic goals over the next 10 to 20 years.
In early 2008, we were privileged to have a meeting with a trustee from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsely Charitable Trust who was interested in our plan. Our 10- to 20-year plan has moved to an 18-month process. The Helmsely Trust will provide Abbott House with the funding to build our intensive care unit, add our staffing positions and renovate our existing building. The renovation will include a teaching kitchen and laundry area as well as a wellness area.
After our recent $3.5 million gift from the Helmsley Trust one of our supporters asked me if we still needed assistance. If there were ever a time in our history to be supportive it is now. The charge that we have is to find a way to continue the amazing gift after the three-year grant and raise funds to enhance the building project with the equipment that we need. With the support of businesses and individuals from across South Dakota, Abbott House can continue to provide the best possible treatment for our young residents.