Rainbow House, Colombia’s only at-risk children’s shelter, will launch a “Rebuild Our Rainbow” fundraising campaign to raise $1.5 million to expand its facilities. The organization held an open house on Friday to pre-launch expansion plans to long-time donors and partners.
In total, the expansion will cost $2.6 million. Rainbow House received $1.1 million from the Veterans United Foundation in November. The organization’s goal is to raise the other half by the end of the summer, chief executive Melissa Faurot said, although it will continue fundraising until it reaches the amount. total.
“It was a dream,” Faurot said, referring to the Veterans United Foundation’s contribution.
The expansion will include a new wing on the side of the children’s emergency shelter that will add eight additional bedrooms. Faurot said this will allow the shelter to double its current capacity of 18 children. The addition of the new wing will allow the shelter to have separate living facilities for boys and girls, said Richie Vanskike, director of development.
The expansion plan will also add a storm shelter under the new wing for children to visit in inclement weather.
The Child Advocacy Center portion of the building will receive an addition under the current plan. The garage, used for donation storage, and the shelter’s dining room will also be expanded.
Other improvements include technology updates and expansion of recreation areas.
Faurot said the goal was to innovate by the spring of 2023, with projects to be completed in two years.
Rainbow House works with Simon Associates, Inc., a local architectural group. Faurot said John Simon, owner of the group, was instrumental in the planning process, from the proposal to the Veterans United Foundation to the launch of the fundraising campaign. Sam McCain, project manager at Simon Associates, Inc., attended the open house and showed a virtual 3D video that visualized the expansion plans.
This is the first improvement plan since 2004, when Rainbow House moved to its current location on Towne Drive from Oakland Road.
Cortney Daniels attended the open house event as a donor. She said she has personally supported Rainbow House since it opened in the 1980s. At the time, she said she and her children donated Christmas gifts to children. Since 2017, she has donated to the organization through her family’s McCortney Foundation. She also continues to personally support Rainbow House through CoMoGives.
“It’s very important to get children out of traumatic environments, and this organization helps them,” Daniels said.
Regarding the expansion, Daniels said she thinks it’s important for girls and boys who have experienced trauma to have the privacy of separate wings while staying at the shelter.
“This expansion will give (Rainbow House) more space to do the work that they need to do,” she said.
In March, Rainbow House was facing staff shortages that made it difficult to care for the number of children it would typically be able to care for. Faurot said that since then the organization has hired five new employees and continues to recruit more staff to accommodate the expansion, which will require it to double its workforce.
The fundraising campaign will be released to the general public early next week.