A nearly 50-year-old organization providing education, counseling and services to young people in Hall County is finally beginning a much-needed expansion.
Center Point, a nonprofit providing counseling, mentoring, education and prevention to Gainesville City and Hall County students, is adding a location in South Hall that will better serve its growing population.
The South Hall facility, located at 3584 Atlanta Highway in Flowery Branch, has a total of 5,600 square feet, and 1,800 square feet are already renovated. The nonprofit announced a $1.1 million capital campaign last week to renovate the remaining 3,800 square feet into usable space.
“We have the building, we’ve just got to finish it,” said Executive Director David Smith. “We’re going to have an education training space that will be the biggest piece of this. We’ll be working with the high schools, Johnson, Flowery Branch and West Hall, to utilize this space.”
Center Point was originally the brainchild of a few local churches, created with the purpose of providing off-site religion classes to public school students. But it has transformed into a diverse student-and-family-centered nonprofit.
Smith said all the services offered in Gainesville will be offered at the South Hall location and will be available to more people.
“It’s really multipurpose and it’s much bigger than what we have here in Gainesville,” he said. “So we can do much more with it.”
Brad Patten, chairman of the Center Point Board of Directors, said the current Center Point facility, located across the street from Gainesville High School, is completely maximized. He said the second location is ideal, because of growth in the region.
“It’s incredible how much is being built down there,” Smith said. “It’s blowing up. Everywhere I look down there, there’s building going on, and of course the new Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Braselton, it’s really sowing seeds down there.”
Patten said Center Point was looking to expand when a “perfect storm” allowed the center to acquire the location.
“There is no room here,” Patten said. “So it was a logical thing, and then everything sort of fell into place. The building became available, we became the recipient of a hospital foundation grant. It was the perfect storm of everything falling into place.”
Patten said the need for Center Point services is “endless.” He predicted the new facility, once it is up and running, will be at full capacity immediately.
“We would like to have centers in every part of the county,” he said. “But we chose South Hall because of growth. As I say, ‘Let’s go where the people are.’”
Smith said Center Point’s mission is to give students the tools and support system to put life skills and critical thinking in place.
Many of the services, including the mentoring and substance abuse and teen pregnancy prevention programs, would not be available to public school students without the districts’ partnerships with Center Point.
“And the schools contact Center Point because of the need,” Patten said. “Which I think really says it all. Within those school systems they are saying, ‘OK, we know Center Point has this to offer, and we have a kid who needs it.’”
Smith and Patten said anyone can contribute to the capital campaign, in donations as small as $1 or are large as $100,000.
The nonprofit launched the campaign Thursday and received a $100,000 donation immediately. But additional donations are still greatly needed.
“We want donations of all sizes,” Patten said. “It doesn’t matter.”
“We’re a center for everybody,” Smith said. “So even myself, would I have the capacity to make a major donation like that? No. But I give what I can, and other people do too. I love that we got that sizable donation, but I look at every dollar and know there is a person behind it.”
Donations can be made through the website, by mail-in checks or sponsorships.
Smith said he wants people to know where their dollar goes. He said every dollar goes toward serving more than 8,500 children a year.
“We have to grow to meet these population demands alone,” he said. “And one day maybe there will be a center in North Hall and East Hall and West Hall too, like we’re adding in South Hall. That’s my hope.”