Opportunity may be the best word to describe what Bluffton Self Help's move to much larger headquarters will mean to the 24-year-old private social services agency.
The move will bring the opportunity to help more people, expand services, stockpile more food and other types of donations, as well as offer individuals seeking help more privacy. And it is an opportunity for Bluffton Self Help to become an even more positive force in the community.
The group hopes to relocate from its current home in a 1,000-square-foot building in old town Bluffton to a 6,500-square-foot building in Sheridan Park before Thanksgiving.
The agency that began in Ida Martin's garage in 1987 certainly is overdue for bigger headquarters. Change has swept over Bluffton in the past decade.
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The town's population has grown from 1,275 residents in 2000 to 12,530 in 2010, an 883 percent increase.
As its population has grown so has the need for Bluffton Self Help's services. In 2004, the year Martin announced she would retire as director, the group helped about 1,000 people. Last year, that number reached more than 22,000.
The agency provides food, clothing and emergency financial help. It also works with counselors at area schools, providing school supplies and uniforms and paying for eye exams for children of families at or below the poverty level.
We like the group's pragmatic approach to this expansion. Originally, it had hoped to build a new 6,500-square-foot building on land donated by the town of Bluffton on Bluffton Road. But when construction estimates came in at more than $1 million for the building and surrounding roads, the group abandoned that plan.
The new plan puts them in a former showroom for $575,000, plus $200,000 in renovations. Board members also hope to raise an additional $100,000 for a 10-year-utility endowment.
The building was purchased with support from grants, foundations, corporations, individual donors and fund drives. The organization has reached the halfway mark of its "Building HOPE" campaign, with a goal to raise $1 million.
Board president Peter Bromley said, "Our guiding principle is not to take a penny from the operations fund for any of the building costs."
Itâ€™s good to see them make use of an existing building and infrastructure rather than building new. By doing so, theyâ€™ll move out of their too-small facility much sooner.
And that means the opportunity to help even more people will come sooner.