Interact buying YWCA facility

By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. – Interact is buying the facility on Oberlin Road that has served as the home of the YWCA of the Triangle and plans to transform it into a one-stop center for children and families who are victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Interact is taking a loan from Self-Help in Durham to buy the 55,000-square-foot facility at 1012 Oberlin Rd., and is in the quiet phase of a capital campaign to raise $5 million to repay the loan, renovate the facility and create an endowment to maintain it.

Based on recommendations from an advisory committee after two years of study, Interact wants its new center to expand its current crisis services by adding programs to address the longer-term needs of victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Interact plans to provide those new services mainly through partnerships with other organizations, says Adam Hartzell, executive director.

“It’s an opportunity for us to get services for our clients, and for our partners to expand their services and gain access to our clients for their expertise,” he says.

The arrangement also will give Interact and its partner agencies the opportunity to team up in seeking grant support for their joint programs, Hartzell says.

The expansion of services should result in an increase of no more than 25 percent to 30 percent in Interact’s annual operating budget of $1.95 million, he says.

Interact plans to sell the 15,000-square-foot facility at 612 Wade Avenue that has served as its headquarters and will consolidate its operations in its new Oberlin Road facility, a move that Hartzell says will produce cost-efficiencies.

Interact has entered discussions with YMCA of the Triangle to operate the pool, workout facilities and locker rooms on the first floor of its new three-story building, and make those facilities and its programs available to children, including those served by Interact, Hartzell says.

And while the YWCA has consolidated its facilities at its building at 554 E. Hargett St., he says, the YWCA will lease 1,000 square feet at Interact’s new facility and provide programs to Interact clients.

Other partners likely will include those offering the kinds of “wraparound” services the advisory committee has recommend that Interact provide in the areas of mental health; health and wellness; substance abuse; basic needs such as housing and vocational training; and a health clinic.

With a $340,000 grant from the John Rex Endowment in Raleigh, an Interact advisory committee has been studying how the organization might respond to a report released in the late 1990s by the national Centers for Disease Control.

That report found that, while they provide good services to address emergencies, most communities fail to provide the kind of longer-term support needed by children and families who have been the victims of domestic violence, Hartzell says.

If they cannot provide for the basic needs of their families or find counseling to help address their trauma issues, the report found, mothers six months after the initial crisis are far more likely to return to violent or abusive relationships or find new ones, Hartzell says.

The advisory committee has visited programs throughout the U.S. that have created such wraparound services, including the Tubman Family Alliance in Minneapolis, which Hartzell says is a national model.

“Our goal is to stop this cycle,” he says.

Chaired by Josh Stein, a special deputy attorney general who heads the consumer protection division for the state Attorney General’s Office, and Christine Young, Triangle area executive for First Citizens Bank, the capital campaign already has raised 25 percent of its goal, Hartzell says.

Funds from the long-term lease of the pool and workout facilities will be used either for the building endowment or to support operations.

With a staff of 31 people working full-time and 12 people working part-time, Interact this year expects to serve 32,000 individuals.

The organization will serve roughly half those individuals through the nonviolence curriculum it offers in Wake County schools in grades three through 12, and through a speakers bureau that receives five to 15 requests a week from civic groups and churches, and a professional-training programs in nonviolence offered to groups such as emergency-room staff, human-resources professionals and the Raleigh police academy.

The other half of Interact’s clients are women and children, and even some men, who have been the victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse.

Interact provides roughly two-dozen programs for those clients, including a shelter for women and children.

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