Deanna Berry was almost speechless after Thursday’s groundbreaking ceremony for Russell Child Development Center’s new $5 million facility.

“I think we’ve been working toward this for so long that then you start thinking that it’s not real, but today it’s real,” Berry, who is the executive director of RCDC, said following the groundbreaking. “It’s pretty exciting that it’s going to happen.”

RCDC’s new facility, which will be located at 2735 N. Jennie Barker Road, behind Tractor Supply, will nearly triple the agency’s existing facility in size. The current facility, at 714 Ballinger Road, is about 8,000 square feet while the new facility is 22,000 square feet.

RCDC’s current facility, which is located in a residential area, was designed for about 20 office staff members and RCDC currently employs 52.

Michael Radke, president of the RCDC board of directors, said during the ceremony that the groundbreaking for the new facility was a momentous occasion.

“Our organization began in 1965, and it was a group of parents and concerned citizens who were looking to get services for their children. For the past 53 years, our organization has grown to where we cover 19 southwest Kansas counties. Last year alone, we served over 4,500 for different childhood services,” Radke said. “We also serve for developmental delays and disabilities in young children from birth to six years of age… We’re here because we care about kids and we care about helping, not only the children, but their parents. With this new building we’re breaking ground on, it’s going to help accomplish that.”

The new facility will house rooms for family consultations and site visits, clinic space for specialty medical providers and telemedicine consults, small and large meeting rooms for professional development and staff meetings, and storage space for specialized equipment loaned out to families.

In order to raise money for the new building, RCDC has been holding a “Building a Brighter Future” capital campaign to raise $7.5 million, with $5 million going toward the facility and the remaining going toward the increased costs of running and maintaining the new facility ($1 million) and program endowment ($1.5 million).

Co-campaign chairman Dr. Matthew Gerstberger said the groundbreaking has been a long time coming. Nine years ago, when he first joined the board, there was a space issue with RCDC, he said.

“During the course of my time on the board, we looked at ways to make our facility work. We looked at purchasing a building that maybe was already in place and remodeling, and we came to the conclusion that it was time to seriously consider this project here,” Gerstberger said.

According to a press release from Stacey Montgomery, RCDC’s communications and fund development coordinator, RCDC has $1 million left to raise before meeting its $5 million building goal.

Those interested in donating toward the campaign can do so at www.rcdc4kids.org, where more information on the campaign can be found.

According to Montgomery, the construction project is scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2019.

Daniel and Alysha Brown were two of the 80-plus people who attended the groundbreaking. They said they wanted to share their support of the new facility and thank RCDC for their services, as 3-year old son Nathaniel has benefited from RCDC services.

“We just wanted to come by and say ‘thank you’ for their services. They have done a lot for us,” Alysha Brown said.

She said her son received occupational therapy and vision therapy services from RCDC.

“They provided us some really good equipment, as well, like a wheel chair to loan, and they provided other equipment to use,” Alysha Brown said. “They gave us a lot of good resources and directions for where we needed to go with Nathaniel and what we needed to do in this journey.”

Daniel Brown said RCDC has been a blessing to his family.

“I’m very glad to see them be able to break this ground for more more room and to provide even more services for more special needs families in southwest Kansas,” he said.

 

Contact Josh Harbour a jharbour@gctelegram.com.