Rhonda Wurgler is executive director of the Children's Center of Medina County.
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MEDINA — On one of the biggest days in the history of the Children’s Center of Medina County, Executive Director Rhonda Wurgler was struggling to stand erect.
“I almost didn’t make it today,” Wurgler said. “This has been the worst four to six weeks of my life.”
But Wurgler, who has been fighting an infection, couldn’t miss the groundbreaking ceremony attended by about 50 people for the center’s new facility at 724 E. Smith Road.
“This is a home of healing,” said Brian Cullen, president of the center’s board. “This is where the hurt stops.”
The center provides a nurturing and safe environment for children who have been abused or neglected. It operates as a not-for-profit organization that relies on donations and grants to provide services and programs.
Wurgler said the center has outgrown its location at 200 Highland Drive, where sex-abuse cases and foster cases are seen on the same floor, which should be avoided.
At the new facility, foster cases will be handled on the lower level and sex-abuse cases on the second level.
“Here, we will not be sharing space,” Wurgler said.
To meet the growing needs of the center, the organization’s board of directors purchased a house for $99,500 on East Smith Road. Pride One Construction will handle expanding the 2,000-square-foot house to 5,200 square feet.
Wurgler said the all-inclusive project cost estimate is $575,000.
Westfield Bank holds the mortgage on the house and the construction debt.
A capital campaign, chaired by Jennifer Graham of the children’s center, has been established with a goal to retire the full amount of the construction debt.
Among the amenities in the new facility are:
- state-of-the-art medical exam room designed to address the specific needs of children who experience abuse;
- state-of-the-art medical lab to ensure processing of collected laboratory samples;
- neutral and soundproof forensic interview room that provides children a safe environment where they can tell their story;
- family room, which will provide privacy and comfort for children and their families;
- conference room, which will provide space for case reviews and training for professionals and community members.
Wurgler said she hopes to move into the new facility in about six months. “March of next year at the latest.”
The lease at the Highland Drive location expires at the end of September, and she hopes to sign a short-term lease until the new facility is ready.
Wurgler said when she started at the center in 2011, she was the staff. Now, there are three full-time employees, including her, and three part-timers.
“The staff is amazing,” she said. “They’ve been learning how to survive without me.”
She said she’s applied for a federal grant and if the center is successful in getting it, she will hire two more full-time employees, including a human-trafficking coordinator and a support specialist.
She said the center serves more than 200 children each year, and since 2007, her office has dealt with 900 sex-abuse cases.
“Sadly, the need for our services is growing, in part due to the opioid epidemic,” she said.