Wednesday marked a celebratory milestone for The Children’s Haven and children experiencing foster care in Cherokee County. The nonprofit organization celebrated the completion of the playground that will serve as a safe and inviting place for children being served by the Children’s Haven.
The playground project, which features jungle gyms, a swing set, a hand-painted mural, games and a basketball court, were made possible by Cherokee County’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program and what Children’s Haven Executive Director Marcie Smith called “radical generosity” of nonprofits, businesses and volunteers in the community.
The CDBG program is flexible and provides communities with resources to address a wide range of unique community development needs. It was enacted in 1974 and provides annual grants on a formula basis to more than 1,200 general units of local government and states. It is one of the longest running programs administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The Children’s Haven originally applied for CDBG grant funds in program year 2018 and was awarded $50,000. The project suffered delays for numerous reasons and construction costs increased during that time. The Children’s Haven came back to the county with a proposal for additional funds in the 2020 program year.
“We reallocated funds in the amount of $10,287.47 from a 2017 project that did not use all of their funding, $52,673.53 from leftover funds from a 2018 project and $4,039 from unallocated funds in 2019,” said Laura Calfee, CDBG program manager.
Smith said the CDBG funds assisted The Children’s Haven in creating a space that is sustainable and allowed the nonprofit to garner additional funds to complete the project.
“The project truly wouldn’t have happened without CDBG funds. The funds allowed us to address water drainage issues that affected the entire property. We would not have been able to effectively address these underlying issues without this grant,” Smith said. “We leveraged these funds to raise matching dollars from businesses, foundations, individuals, and community organizations to complete the project. The CDBG funds acted as a catalyst for this amazing display of community support.
“Our Board of Directors is committed to being good stewards of the dollars invested in our organization and we could not be prouder of what this funding built for our county’s children in foster care. We know this playground will bring joy, promote safety, encourage fun, and preserve dignity,” she added.
The CDBG program is open to any nonprofit in Cherokee County or local government in the county with a cooperative agreement with Cherokee County. The county has cooperative agreements with all six cities in the county.
In 2020 alone, the CDBG program awarded $1.1 million in grant funding to nonprofits and local governments for projects to better serve the citizens of the community.
Through a cooperating agreement with the county, the city of Canton secured $127,496 for improvements to Harmon Park. The Malon D. Mimms Boys & Girls Club received more than $80,000 for transportation, reading and workforce development. Habitat for Humanity received $193,000 to purchase land for affordable housing and administer the home repair program, and MUST Ministries received more than $60,000 for supportive housing and a renovation project.
The application process is open during the summer, and the 2022 program year application period closed in July.
“While the application period is closed for the next program year, nonprofits should mark their calendars for May 2022 to submit applications for the 2023 program year,” Calfee said.
For more information on the Community Development Block Grant program in Cherokee County, visit www.cherokeega.com/CDBG.
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