Agencies partner in building facilities

The Rev. Tony Marciano
The Rev. Tony Marciano

Todd Cohen

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — After paying $600,000 in October 2006 to buy twice the land it needed for a new recovery facility for homeless women addicted to drugs or alcohol, Charlotte Rescue Mission learned United Family Services was looking for land to replace and expand its own shelter for battered women.

In June, after a year of talks spearheaded by members of the two agencies’ boards with expertise in land development, United Family Services signed an agreement to pay $300,000 to Charlotte Rescue Mission to buy half its 11-acre site on West Boulevard near Old Steele Creek.

Now, while they proceed with separate capital campaigns to raise $10 million each, both agencies are looking for ways to lower costs by teaming up to address common needs in developing the site and facilities.

Those needs include environmental studies, grading, landscaping, maintenance, security and the purchase of supplies and food.

United Family Services expects to pay roughly $1.2 million in land and development costs for its new 80-bed shelter, for example, compared to $2 million it initially budgeted.

“This is a great example of a partnership between two organizations,” says Mark J. Pierman, the agency’s president and CEO.

The Rev. Tony Marciano, executive director of Charlotte Rescue Mission, says the two agencies “realized we could save costs by working together rather than by working independently.”

United Family Services’ new facility will replace its existing 33-bed facility near downtown that is owned by Mecklenburg County.

Charlotte Rescue Mission’s new 90-bed facility will replace the 12-bed facility in Dilworth it has owned and operated since 1992.

While the two agencies have not combined their capital campaigns, grantwriters at both agencies worked together to prepare their separate proposals for funding from the city’s Housing Trust Fund.

The two agencies, both of which are working on their campaigns with consulting firm Capstone Advancement Partners, also submitted a joint proposal to the Leon Levine Foundation to name the campus that will house their new facilities.

The foundation responded by encouraging them to submit separate requests, Pierman says.

Marciano says better understanding of the impact on women of domestic violence and substance abuse is critical.

Women with substance-abuse problems sometimes are seen as the “unworthy poor” and carry a stigma because of the perception that they created their own problem, he says, while victims of domestic violence sometimes are seen as the “worthy poor” because someone else committed the violence, Marciano says.

Yet both problems are critical and even can affect the same women, he says.

So while the two agencies will continue to focus on their separate missions, operating separate programs that will serve women differently on the same campus, their new facilities together will be akin to a “cardiac heart center,” he says.

“They have to get into the heart of the individual to determine what’s broken,” he says, “and understand that, in both situations, if it’s not addressed, it can lead to the death of the individual.”

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