Several representatives of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) were present at the Frank Moore Administration and Judicial Center Wednesday morning to deliver a $750,000 check to Bartow County officials.
DCA Region 1 representative Patrick Vickers handed off the oversized check to Bartow County Commissioner Steve Taylor at the public meeting. The funding is derived from a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), which the County applied for earlier this year
Vickers said the beneficiary of the grant will be local nonprofit the Good Shepherd Foundation.
“They do really good work with developmentally-disabled adults,” he said. “It will help purchase and renovate the facility.”
Bartow County Grant Writing Department Director Valerie Gilreath said the CDBG funding will allow the organization to buy the building and land they currently lease off Gilreath Road in Cartersville.
“The renovation will allow them to increase their independent living teaching space,” she said. “They’ll have a couple of classrooms, they’ll have a teaching kitchen and it will also improve the workspace for their existing clients — it is currently not climate-controlled, so they’ll be able to add air conditioning and better heat and a few other improvements.”
Another DCA representative — Brent Allen, who serves as the department’s Office of CDBG Field Services manager — also honored the County government Wednesday morning. He presented Taylor with a framed placard recognizing Bartow for its 2019 National Sterling Achievement Award.
Officially bestowed upon the local government on Sept. 30, the Council of State Community Development Agencies (COSCDA) recognized the County for the Allatoona Resource Center, “for demonstrated positive results in improving the lives of lower-income persons.”
“This is a big deal,” Allen said. “It is a national competition where states all across the country submitted nominations.”
Gilreath said the impetus for the project came from looking at the Glade Road corridor and realizing “nothing had been done in terms of community services for a very long time" in that particular part of the county.
Among other services, staff at the center help residents needing assistance with food stamp renewals and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) enrollment.
The facility, which received a $500,000 CDBG award in 2013, opened in Acworth in 2015.
“Since then, I think it has made a huge impact on the community and continues to do so, and to engage more and more citizens,” Gilreath said.
Site director Nichole Varnell said that the facility served more than 2,000 individuals last year.
“And that’s with medication, utility assistance, doctor visits, prescriptions, GED testing,” she said, “and we have [the Tallatoona Community Action Partnership] there today helping low-income families with energy assistance.”
That southeastern corner of Bartow, Taylor said, is perhaps the most poverty-stricken area in the county.
“This community center is located right smack in the middle of it,” he said. “They really work hard in the community and help a lot of people.”
One of the criteria points for the COSCDA award, Allen said, is project replicability in other communities throughout the country.
“When they saw the gym, they saw the trash compactor," he said, "they saw that ya’ll took a piece of property that was just a couple of pine trees and turned it into this resource center that addressed real, identified needs in that community.”