story by Christine Coester, special to The City Wire
FAYETTEVILLE — On March 12, Youth Bridge held a private reception at the Wine Cellar in honor of the Willard & Pat Walker Charitable Foundation and announced a $300,000 gift that is to go towards Youth Bridge’s Building Brighter Futures Campaign.
Youth Bridge’s mission is to “ ... change the lives of local youth through preventative services, counseling and shelter to strengthen families and build stronger communities.”
Approximately 80% of the youths, ages 10-17 come from the juvenile justice system and are in need of a second chance.
Scott Linebaugh, executive director of Youth Bridge, had talked with the Willard & Pat Walker Charitable Foundation for a couple of years about the need for new facilities.
“Our facilities are old and can’t handle enough kids, there is an increase in demand here in NWA. The Walkers saw that. They saw the reality of the situation and saw the kids who needed help,” Linebaugh said.
Youth Bridge does more than house youths. The organization also provides counseling and rehabilitation services for individuals living at home.
“Forty percent of the youths helped have ‘inpatient’ status; the other sixty percent are ‘outpatient’ youths who stay with us for only a little while. Our objective is to get them home as quickly as possible,” explained Phil Bode, marketing and communications manager for Youth Bridge.
The generous donation from the Walker Foundation helps Youth Bridge come closer to reaching the $1.2 million dollar fundraising goal needed to help build a 46,000-square-foot complex that will consolidate their operations.
The project will initially include facilities such as a clinical building, a residential substance abuse treatment center and a multi-purpose building that will serve as a school, cafeteria and gym until further phases of construction can be completed.
The need for this new facility is great and is now Youth Bridge’s top priority in 2012. Once they meet the $1.2 million goal, they will receive $6 million pledged by a States bond incentive program and another $1.2 million by private investors. The estimated cost of the first phase will be around $10 million dollars.
With blue print in hand, this donation from the Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation brings the construction closer to fruition but no dates for the groundbreaking have been set.