The Kenai Peninsula’s Hope Community Resources Inc. is within reach of breaking ground on a new building to facilitate its rapidly expanding clientele base and services.
The new 4,500-square-foot community recreation center, which will be located next to the current Hope facility on Kalifornsky Beach Road, could be in operation as soon as next spring, said Hope Development Director Jennifer Harrington. However, the project needs funding for the construction costs, which will mostly likely have to come from the public, she said.
Right now, in the midst of the summer months, Hope has been focusing on outdoor activities, including yoga, the mats for which are piled high in the office of Kenai Peninsula Director of Community Support Holly Scott.
Advocacy for the expansion began three years ago, Scott said. The number of clients served every year has increased by 11 percent, she said. Organizations and community members that work closely with Hope were asked to provide letters of support to assist in getting funding.
“The growth rate has been pretty enormous,” Harrington said. “The Kenai Peninsula Hope serves 150 people right now.”
That number is projected to grow by 34 percent over the next four years, Harrington said.
Scott said beyond just their clients, Hope has many partnerships throughout the region, and puts on large community events annually. Part of the goal in developing strong relationships with other organizations is to bolster awareness within the community about the services and activities Hope provides to its clients.
Hope clients have access to creative activities such as building massive papier-mâché masks and theater set design to beading and pottery classes, Scott said. But she said, walking into the building and strolling from room to room, you can tell the current space is getting a little crowded.
Hundreds of clients and community members attended the fifth annual Hope Prom in March at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. The Harvest Festival hosted every fall draws huge numbers as well, Scott said. This new facility would be a place where these events could happen without additional expenses.
The project will cost a total of $1.5 million, Harrington said. The state of Alaska allocated funding for the project. Hope is just starting its campaign seeking the remaining $765,000 from individuals, corporations and foundations.
Community forums held over the last few years to have helped to determine what people would like to see in the new facility, Scott said.
Much like the current Hope center, a massive multi-purpose room will connect the adjoining rooms, which will include laundry, storage, a kitchen, activity rooms, a conference room and a meditation room, which will act as a sensory room for clients who need some quiet time to relax, Scott said.
Services provided by Hope are an integral part of the not only serving their client base, but providing education to the public about how to interact with fellow residents who have disabilities, Harrington said.
For community members wishing to contribute to the construction of the building, donations can be made at hopealaska.org, Harrington said.
Kelly Sullivan can be reached at email@example.com