Administrators of the ever-developing Abigail’s Arms women’s crisis shelter near East Highway 82 have established a request for services from other Cooke County outreach agencies.
Executive Director Kim Cook also said she’s hoping for an exchange of information between her agency and the others.
Cook said she hosted a special “programs planning meeting” Tuesday afternoon in Gainesville in hopes of recruiting help from — and firming ties with — several community leaders. The meeting included representatives of Workforce Texoma, Cooke County Boys and Girls Club, North Central Texas College and North Texas Medical Center and Volunteers In Service To Others (VISTO).
The $2 million crisis shelter is anticipated to be open and operating by summer 2013. Its total fundraising and completion process is now an estimated 55 percent complete, and this includes having secured $550,000 in contingency funds.
“It’s great, it’s absolutely amazing,” Cook said. “The walls are up and the staff has gone out there, and we’ve had meetings there. It’s a very distinctive building. And I just really want the community to know that we are here and we are moving in accordance with our shelter. Because it’s a long-awaited event, and I want people to know we’re not just putting up a building; there will be content involved in that building, and we’re planning that now.”
And the director admitted that skepticism about the completion of the Abigail’s Arms shelter still seems rampant, even though construction is visible from the highway.
“This project has been in the news for years,” Cook said. “Years. And I really want, now that we are building it and you can see something tangible, for people to see the reality of this. Because, unfortunately, I’m still hearing from people, ‘I’m seeing it but I’m not believing it.’”
The facility in development, which will measure 9,000 square feet and house 44 women and children at full capacity, will sport a staff of seven full-time employees and more than 30 volunteers, with staff available 24 hours a day, every day. Grounds will include client parking, a playground, staff offices, a computer lab, a family room and full client access to the kitchen and dining facilities.
Abigail’s Arms staff members currently operate through a downtown office at 114 N. Dixon St., and their clients have no access to overnight care. Once the shelter opens, however, many limitations will vanish.
“We impact lives in a non-residential facility,” Cook said. “But we change lives in a residential facility.”
But Cook said in the interim, she wants to make other agencies are aware of her facility’s long-range “stability model” and the programs therein, such as educational and vocational resources.
The director said she began this connection process during the summer and Tuesday’s meeting was an official gathering. And with bonds in place among other local agencies, Abigail’s Arms administration can better tailor their programming to what their clients still need and aren’t getting elsewhere.
“I would be silly to try and plan all these programs and not try to get the community involvement and not get their input, since we don’t want to duplicate services,” she said, adding that some of the other local agencies have outreach programs similar to what Abigail’s Arms offers. “We want to be very, very transparent moving forward so that everybody in the community knows what’s going to happen.”