Carol Donaldson, executive director of The Sunshine House, said that the child advocacy center has found a new home for their counseling center in the Guido Counseling Center on Hwy. 121 North, which is the old commissioners’ office.
While she is excited about the new location, the move comes with challenges. “This is the first time in 23 years we will have to pay rent and utilities, and this is happening at the same time as the Governor has cut 14 percent from the budget. This is a financial impact we will have to recoup.
“The rent and utilities will be a shock to our budget.” To compensate, Donaldson said, “We may have to cut staff.”
However, she added, “We will keep the office running. We provide a lot of services for children and families and want to continue that. There are too many families and children here for us not to do that.”
Donaldson expressed her appreciation to the county for their generosity in providing a location in the past. However, she said, problems with the facility’s heating and air had already impacted her Metter office.
“We have had no heat and air and had to buy heaters and coolers,” she said. To help combat the issue, “We offered to help with (a new unit) and to pay rent, but they felt it was not enough.
“I understand their decision. We did all we could afford to do without some kind of agreement and said we could pay $7200 for the unit, but they could not give us that.”
Making an agreement with the Guido Ministries offered a fast resolution for The Sunshine House. “We cannot leave our children and families in limbo, so we had to do something quick,” Donaldson said.
The center will relocate in the next few weeks after some minor renovations are completed at their new home.
“Our staff is already packing,” Donaldson said. “This is the best option for us and we think it will work out well.”
The Sunshine House Child Advocacy Center provides free counseling, interviews, medical exams and other services for children and families at risk or affected by child sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect and drug endangerment and for children who have witnessed violence.