One month after making an appeal to the community to help keep the doors of Grace’s Place open, Amanda Jones, executive director, said fund-raising is going well.
Grace’s Place, 302 Lafayette St., is a crisis and respite nursery in Washington. Without at least $10,000 to help pay “monstrous” utility bills, the nursery would be forced to close its door to the community.
So far, a total of $6,800 has been raised. Mercy Hospital Washington also approved a $5,000 donation, which will push donations over the $10,000 mark.
“Right now we have a good amount of money in our account,” Jones said. “But we’re not out of the woods yet.”
Jones said that while the utility bills are under control, she’s still working to catch up other bills that the facility had fallen behind on.
“We’re still encouraging people to give,” Jones said, adding that if it’s easier, people may choose a monthly donation that can be drafted from their accounts.
Tax-deductible donations can be set up through the website, gracesplacecrisisnursery.com. Donations also may be mailed to P.O. Box 83, Washington, MO 63090, or they can be dropped off at the facility.
“Things are looking positive,” Jones said.
Unfortunately, because the building is older and not energy efficient, Jones said she is bracing herself for a difficult summer.
“We may have to run the air conditioning constantly,” she said, adding that windows can’t be opened because there is lead paint inside. “We could find ourselves in the same situation with the utility bills.”
Jones is working to make sure that doesn’t happen, though.
Just over a week ago, Ameren Missouri completed an in-kind energy audit of the facility. Jones said she is working with Ameren to see if there are grants to make the building more energy efficient.
“We are trying to rectify the situation,” she said. “We don’t want to be in this situation again. We’re trying to be proactive.”
Jones said she has been “overwhelmed by the generosity from corporations, to churches, schools and individuals” donating money.
“We’re asking people to be creative (in fund-raising),” she said. “If they don’t have the money to give, they could do a service project.”
St. Francis Borgia Regional High School raised $500 through a dress-down day. Ernesto’s Restaurant held a dine to donate, as did WashMo Snow Co. New Haven High School hosted a barbecue, all to help the facility. Many others have donated as well, including some outside of Franklin County.
Jones noted that Grace’s Place is the only respite and crisis nursery in the county. It serves any family experiencing a crisis, which is a situation that could potentially lead to a child being abused or neglected.
The facility does not get reimbursed for children cared for outside of Franklin County, because of its licensing, but it still helps those families.
Jones said the board has discussed moving to a new, more energy-efficient facility, but it does not pay rent at the current location. If it were to move, Jones noted, the new facility also would have to be relicensed.
Grace’s Place obtained its 501(c)(3) status in December 2010. It opened its doors to the public in December 2011.
Since that time, more than 170 children have been cared for in more than 120 families. Some of those children were cared for in more than one instance, Jones noted.