A fledgling nonprofit center has opened near Salmon Creek, with three social service organizations setting up shop and others likely to join.
United Way of Southeast Alaska, along with American Red Cross and AWARE's Batterer's Accountability Program, opened their offices Thursday at 3225 Hospital Drive. Cancer Connection is scheduled to move in during August.
"It has been a dream of ours since 2002," said Michelle Prebula, board chair of United Way of Southeast Alaska, which has coordinated much of the move.
Partnering with Southeast Alaska Independent Living, the nonprofits have created a new entity - United Human Services of Southeast Alaska - for the purpose of forming a new multi-tenant nonprofit center.
"This great partnership will eventually allow us to meet our mission of bringing social services closer together," said Brenda Hewitt, president and CEO of United Way of Southeast Alaska. "We envision a community volunteer center, a one-stop shop for information on social services, a community use boardroom and classroom, plus it makes us all more sustainable because it allows us to put more of our donated funds directly into services, instead of overhead."
Building off of successful nonprofit centers around the country, the center will offer nonprofits greater efficiency through low rent and shared space. Organizers also hope the cooperation and closeness will help them be more successful.
"That's part of that synergy that you get from just being in the same location, sharing volunteers, access to training and stuff like that," Hewitt said. "It also allows us to put more of our money toward our missions, which is what it's all about."
Hewitt was excited Thursday's opening day also marked her three-year anniversary with United Way.
"This started in 2002, so this is way pre-Brenda, but it's such a great idea," she said. "It's kind of amazing that it all lines up and it took us three years to get here since I (arrived)."
United Human Services of Southeast Alaska has been part of Foraker's Pre-Development Program for two years. It is funded by the Alaska Mental Health Trust, Rasmuson Foundation and the Denali Commission. The project garnered support from Juneau's legislative delegation as well as from Mayor Bruce Botelho.
"Thanks to our Juneau delegation, Alaska Mental Health Trust and the Rasmuson Foundation for seeing the advantages to it and giving us some funds to get it started," said Joan O'Keefe, executive director of SAIL and President of the new United Human Services of Southeast Alaska.
The Foraker's Pre-Development Program helped pay for establishing the new legal entity, selecting the site and architectural work, developing the capital campaign and membership in the Nonprofit Center Network, and giving United Way of Southeast Alaska and SAIL training and tools for developing the new center.
Ernie Mueller, American Red Cross' disaster response specialist for Southeast Alaska, looks forward to sharing the building with other nonprofits.
"That way we can share resources, and it's a little bit more economical for us," he said Thursday. "There are still boxes, chairs and stuff piled all over, but our telephones and Internet are up, so we're in business."
As space becomes available, other social service nonprofits will be invited into the center.
Contact Neighbors editor Kim Andree at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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