In a deeply troubled neighborhood, where the sound of gunfire in the night is common, hope is under construction. A new ChildSafe campus is coming to east San Antonio.
On Thursday, the organization donated 21 acres of woodlands to the San Antonio parks system to make their new facility a natural space for healing.
ChildSafe Board Chairman Ray Battaglia said that the combination of a service center for abused kids and an unspoiled nature area is perfect match.
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ChildSafe provides crisis intervention, case management services, counseling, and advanced therapy to aid in the healing of child victims of abuse and neglect. The center, near the intersection of I-10 and East Houston Street will be an oasis where bugs buzzing and the breeze in the trees will be powerful medicine.
"It's so beautiful out there with huge old growth trees, and partnering with the city is just going to be great."
said Battaglia, who noted that the 65,000-square-foot treatment center will be state-of-the-art.
Planners say that the building will be surrounded by green spaces, rooftop gardens, courtyards and outdoor therapy areas.
"It’s out in a wooded area that is virgin territory that hasn’t been built on. It's going to be a beautiful facility and it's going to be a beacon of hope and a beacon for the people on the east side," Battaglia described.
In an area that has seen seven shootings in the last few days, Battaglia says that the kids who are living with this kind of violence and do not receive treatment now are much more likely to continue this vicious cycle.
"Anything we can do to catch kids earlier and help families to deal with this problem is going to reduce violence," Battaglia explained. "The more we bring light to this issue that's so hard to talk about, the more we start combating it."
Battaglia says that for any family that needs help, there is no need to wait for the new building to be finished.
“Abuse is wrong and your child’s been abused, reach out. Reach out to ChildSafe or law enforcement and stop it today and get your children and get your family help,” Battaglia said.
Heavy machinery is already at work on drainage and utility improvements. The group is planning a community groundbreaking event for October 14th at 10 a.m.
Battaglia said that construction begins in earnest in December and it will be about 18 months before they will open their doors. But he did note that ChildSafe will be working hard to get the job done because they know the need is critical.
To learn more about ChildSafe and the Salado Creek Campus, visit their official website here.