Expansion project to benefit social, health services in Austin

Gema Alvarado-Guerrero, executive director of the Parenting Resource Center in Austin, said the organization’s current home will be expanded to include a property next door. This property was sold to the organization for one dollar by the Austin Housing & Redevelopment Authority. The project itself is financed by the Hormel Foundation.

Alvarado-Guerrer said the expansion contracts are in the process of being closed and therefore the exact cost of the project is yet to be withheld.

Nevertheless, the change is urgently needed because the use of their services has increased by a total of 15 percent, but also because the center currently has so little space.

“We have a private office for eight people,” said Alvarado-Guerrero. “When we need a private conversation, we often have to go outside and find a quiet place.”

There is also no conference room. That will change with enlargement.

Additionally, there is storage space in the basement for programs like the diaper pantry, children’s wardrobe, and pantry pantry, making it difficult for staff to get the items they need when they call for help, she said.

“We will get additional storage space,” said Alvarado-Guerrero. “If we need these things now, we have to go to the basement. With the expansion, we have a location that is accessible to staff and we are not interrupted.”

The 15 programs offered by the Parenting Resource Center include the Michael H. Seibel Family Visitation and Exchange Center, where custodial and non-custodial parents can exchange children in a safe environment, and Catherwood Home Child Care; and parenting education.

While the expansion will provide more space for all of these programs, it will also bring other organizations under one roof to help families in need. The Austin Welcome Center, which provides services such as language translation and job placement for new residents, will move to the newly expanded Parenting Resource Center.

“They don’t have enough office space when families come to them,” she said. “You also need space for larger family units.”

The children’s dental services in Rochester will also have a permanent place through this project. Alvarado-Guerrero said the program is providing underserved children with comprehensive dental care and education. The Dental Program currently rents a space in Austin but often goes to schools for cleanings and dental health education.

“Now they are actually going to have a permanent room with a laboratory,” she said. “It will be the only Austin dental office with medical assistance. Right now, families have to go to Rochester or Northfield with medical assistance. “

Funding this expansion just makes sense, said Jeffrey M. Ettinger, chairman of the Hormel Foundation.

“A single location will allow these organizations that provide services to many of the same families to coordinate their services while providing easier access and an identifiable location to seek help for clients’ families,” said Ettinger.

Jeffrey Ettinger

Jeffrey Ettinger

Construction on the project is expected to begin this fall with the new facility opening in August 2022, Alvarado-Guerrero said.

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