At the Macon County Commissioners’ meeting last week, REACH’s board president Bonnie Peggs asked the county to kick in $50,000 toward the match.
“We can’t show pictures of victims of domestic violence. We can’t show the children who are impacted by that,” Peggs told commissioners. “All we can do is tell you the story and say that REACH is more than a shelter.”
REACH provides victims a safe place to escape abuse, help in planning their next steps and plenty of other supports as per the acronym that forms its name: Resources, Education, Assistance, Counseling, Housing. Currently, REACH rents a farmhouse 7 miles outside of Franklin as its shelter. It has six bedrooms and a maximum capacity of 12 people, which it reaches more nights than not. During the first three quarters of the 2013-14 fiscal year, 14 families were turned away due to lack of space.
“It’s an incredibly heart-wrenching moment every time we say, ‘Our shelter’s full, we can’t take you in,’” Peggs said.
The new building would be built on property REACH owns and would include 20 bedrooms, expanded common areas, a state-of-the-art security system and an in-town location with easier accessibility. The organization hopes to break ground in November.
Commissioners expressed support for REACH’s request and plan to discuss it further at their May 31 budget work session.
“What I would recommend is to take it under advisement, serious advisement,” said Commissioner Ronnie Beale, who is a former REACH board member.
“Being a landlord for 30 years, I’ve witnessed firsthand seeing things that happen,” agreed Commissioner Ron Haven, who has served on the REACH board as well.
Jackson County, whose residents account for about one-third of shelter users, is considering a similar appeal. County Manager Chuck Wooten included REACH’s request for $25,000 in his 2014-15 budget proposal.
“For years we’ve been looking at building a new shelter, and now we’ve finally come to the place where we are,” Peggs said.
REACH is also accepting personal donations as well. Give at www.reachofmaconcounty.org or mail to P.O. Box 228, Franklin, NC 28734.