DOBSON —The Children’s Center of Surry and Yadkin continues to meet ever-growing demands, watching its annual expenses rise from about $200,000 in 1998 to more than $1.8 million now.
Director Robin Testerman said the center looks to the community for financial and other sorts of support; on Tuesday the center recognized some organizations which have gone above and beyond the call of duty.
At its annual meeting, held at Surry Community College, the Children’s Center officially thanked North Wilkes High School, Yadkin County Schools and Mount Airy Chick-Fil-A.
In 2015, the center housed 86 children at its locations in Dobson and Yadkinville. The kids are provided 24-hour care, and were fed more than 1,000 meals, according to Testerman. Many of those meals were provided by a local fast-food restaurant.
“Chick-Fil-A serves a meal every Thursday at our Surry County home,” said Chris Funk, chair of the Children’s Center board of directors. “They are a wonderful community partner.”
Testerman went on to explain manager Chad Tidd’s fast food restaurant also supports other programs for the center, such as its Christmas party.
Tidd said supporting the community is simply part of the platform on which his business operates.
“That demographic is one we are really passionate about,” explained Tidd. “We will always take every opportunity available to facilitate supporting these young people in any way we can.”
Though housing children with nowhere else to go is the bulk of the Children Center’s work, the organization does much more to aid youth and families.
One such program is a Why Try program, said Testerman, and North Wilkes High School took part in one.
The Why Try program, according to Zach Barth, who manages the program, is an educational program which helps middle- and high school-aged children develop interpersonal skills. It includes activities which help students build social skills used in building effective relationships with peers and others.
Why Try is a 10-week program in which those referred to the program — often by a court counselor or school official — meet once a week.
Testerman said North Wilkes “bent over backwards” to support the program.
“On behalf of our staff and administration, I’d like to say we were delighted to host Why Try,” said North Wilkes assistant principal Jason Llewellyn. “It was a great opportunity for our students.”
Another educational entity, Yadkin County Schools, was recognized for its support of the center’s programs in Yadkin County.
Testerman said the school system has been an ever-present supporter, providing the venue for many of the center’s programs in Yadkin County such as parenting classes and a Strengthening Families program.
“They are very easy to work with,” said Testerman.
“We are always looking for ways to take care of our students,” said Dr. Todd Martin, Yadkin superintendent. “The Children’s Center is a fantastic resource to have in our community.”
“They help take care of a population which needs more help than most,” added Martin. “We are glad and proud to partner with them.”
Testerman said even with the support of the three entities – and many more in the community – one thing is always needed to continue working toward the center’s mission: financial support.
In 2015, the center spent nearly $1.5 million on programs for youth and families, according to the entity’s annual report. More than $684,000 was spent at the homes, while other dollars supported intervention and prevention programs.
“There’s a misconception our (annual) golf tournament provides all the funding we need to operate,” said Testerman. “It’s really just a drop in the bucket.”
Testerman said the center is always working to raise funds to support its many programs. An annual Heart of a Child Ball is planned for the Valentine’s Day season. Additionally, the center holds bingo nights, and children at the center design holiday cards, which are sold to help support the organization.
The Children’s Center is also staring at a large overhaul to its administrative offices, said Testerman. As part of that effort, the former Lighthouse Restaurant which adjoins the Children’s Center’s present location on Old N.C. 601 in Dobson will be torn down.
Testerman said the removal of the aging structure will make way for additions to the administrative offices which house staff who support programs in the community. The new build will include classrooms in which center staff can conduct educational programs.
The administrative offices were once housed at the home on Prison Camp Road, according to Testerman. They were then moved to their present location, which was once the home of a women’s center. However, as the number of programs offered and the number of children and families served has grown, so too has the need for administrative space and additional venues in which programs may be held.
Testerman said the project has yet to go to bid and will be completed in phases as funds become available.
She also stressed 90 cents of every dollar spent at the Children’s Center goes directly toward supporting the population the center serves.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.