SAN ANTONIO - Bexar County will soon have a new state-of-the-art facility to serve children and families of child abuse and neglect, thanks to a $5 million donation from local philanthropist Harvey E. Najim to ChildSafe.
The 70,000 square foot center, which will bear Najim’s name, will sit on 36 acres along Interstate 10 and East Houston on the city’s East Side.
“One of the things we have to do, one of the things we should do, is make sure that we protect our children from child abuse and child neglect,” said Najim during an event Thursday night at Overland Partners, the architect firm designing the building.
“Having this new building and having this gift makes a huge impact on the families that come there and our treatment,” said Kim Abernethy, ChildSafe president and CEO. “We're going to be on wooded acres. We'll have a park connected to it. It's a real healing environment, and it's easy to get to.”
Najim first visited ChildSafe’s current location, situated off of Highway 90 near SW Military, six years ago and felt an immediate draw to help.
“I got to see one of the mothers and child come out of the forensic room just by chance. (It) left an indelible impression upon my mind,” Najim said.
Abernethy said the need for growth is there. ChildSafe’s staff grew 47 percent in the last year, and the number of families it serves has grown from 1,600 to 3,400 since Najim’s first visit.
“We can say that's a bad thing, but the more awareness we create, the more education. The numbers are going to go up before they go down,” Abernethy said.
The center will also house other related agencies, including Child Protective Services, law enforcement and assistant district attorneys. Groundbreaking is scheduled for next May, with completion in the fall of 2018.
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