By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Ground was broken around two years ago on the new Cherokee Children’s Home, and construction is moving along. The new home is being built on 28 acres located on Goose Creek Road in the Birdtown Community. When finished, it will consist of two cottages each with nine beds and other amenities.
“The first home is 60 percent complete,” said Cristopher Weatherford, Cherokee Children’s Home director. “This is the larger of the two homes as it houses our administrative offices as well as a 3,000 square foot multi-use finished basement. The Cherokee Boys Club (CBC) construction department is working with Western Builders to install the siding of the first home as the sheetrock is being installed. Once siding installation is complete, nearly all of the work will be interior.”
Weatherford said the second home is 30 percent complete. Roof work is currently being done as well as inside electrical and plumbing work. Once that work is finished, CBC crews will shingle the home.
“There is still a great deal to be accomplished for the project to reach completion,” noted Weatherford who said the estimated funding needed to finish the project is around $400,000. The total cost projection for the project is $1.6 million and Weatherford said they have raised $1.2 million.
An opening date has not been set yet, but Weatherford hopes to be in the first home by Feburary 2015. “Since we are operating out of one home currently, I can hopefully hire and train new staff in the first home to be ready for the second home to open, maybe late spring.”
Weatherford said fundraising has been “steady” and he is happy with several grants they have received from the Cherokee Preservation Foundation and the HUD Indian Community Development Block Grant. Other funds have come from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in the form of a $400,000 donation.
“The dedicated employees of the Cherokee Boys Club responded with 76 percent participation in a payroll deduction campaign in 2012,” he said. “We have been working during the Tribe’s open enrollment season to offer this deduction campaign opportunity to all tribal employees. We are not asking for a lot, though our need is great. If every tribal employee could contribute $1 to $3 per pay period, it would add up to a sizable donation.”
Tribal employees wishing to participate in a deduction can obtain the forms from the Cherokee Children’s Home office or at the Tribal Payroll Office.
Weatherford said fundraising for the Home is sometimes difficult. “Many in this area assume we are a tribal program and that the Tribe should just build us this building. We are not a tribal program or in their budget structure.”
He added, “Despite this, we still feel blessed and hopeful that this project will be completely timely. There are children in our community and children who have been placed outside of this community that need a safe, stable, nurturing environment to live while those work to strengthen their future.”
The Cherokee Children’s Home was established in 1969 and has been the permanent or temporary home for over 1,700 Cherokee youth over the years.
Two Cherokee ladies were at the forefront of the effort to have the new home built. Francine Watty and her aunt, Gunnie Bradley, approached Tribal Council several years ago and asked that funds be found for a new facility.
Construction is being done by the Cherokee Boys Club.