A new library, complete with learning nooks, is part of the expanded space at the Completely KIDS headquarters at 2566 St. Mary’s Ave. (Photo by Scott Stewart)
Expanded HQ Gives Nonprofit More Space to Serve Families
By Scott Stewart
The Daily Record
The newly renovated and expanded headquarters for Completely KIDS is like a teacher’s dream of a community center.
The new facility features a gym and multipurpose area, a cafeteria space, a library and several classrooms, including dedicated spaces for adult learning, toddlers, young children, teenagers and music and technology classes.
Adrielle Griffin, director of marketing and communications, said the nonprofit renovated and expanded its space at 2566 St. Mary’s Ave. instead of moving so it could continue to serve clients in the surrounding neighborhoods.
“This is definitely our headquarters, but we serve kids and families here,” Griffin said. “We wanted to be able to serve more kids and families here, which was the need for the renovation.”
The $11.3 million project began fundraising in December 2016 toward a $10 million capital campaign, which was added to the nonprofit’s building fund to finance the project, which nearly doubled the nonprofit’s space from 16,000 square feet to 29,000 square feet. A garage and small parking lot were removed to make space for the expansion, and the main entrance is now located directly off St. Mary’s Avenue.
Completely KIDS is putting the finishing touches on the building, in preparation for children to begin using the new spaces in June.
“A couple weeks and there will be nonstop voices in here,” Griffin said while giving a tour.
The public can get a look at the new Completely KIDS building Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. during an open house. A brief program and ribbon-cutting ceremony will begin at 2:15 p.m.
Griffin said donors were given a first look last week, and next week families participating in programs will have a chance to tour the new space while completing a set of activities together.
“Saturday will be the official grand opening,” Griffin said.
Completely KIDS currently serves about 2,000 children per year, including about 225 at the St. Mary’s Avenue site. The work will expand that to about 650 children, growing the number of families impacted from 40 to 190 and the number of children served through the nonprofit’s weekend food program from 460 to 930.
“We’ll be able to offer certain things simultaneously that we weren’t able to offer before,” Griffin said, which should allow families to participate but still be able to spend more time together.
The organization works primarily with children ages 4 to 14 and is partnered with five elementary and two middle schools in the Omaha Public Schools as well as the All Saints School, Ronald McDonald House Omaha, Omaha Bridges Out of Poverty and three homeless shelters, including one in Council Bluffs. The main area served is southeastern Omaha, including around 25th Street and St. Mary’s Avenue, Griffin said.
Griffin said most of the group’s curriculum is club-based, where students spend several weeks exploring a subject such as science, reading or music. Swimming and classroom readiness are also taught, and teen alumni can work on leadership and workforce development skills. Adults with children in programs can also take English, high school equivalence diploma, literacy, cooking and other classes to help build self-sufficiency, and Griffin said the nonprofit hopes to begin offering two-generational classes where parents can learn life skills like cooking alongside their children.
“We just have found that, for the kids, in order for them to be successful, their families have to be involved,” Griffin said. “It’s not that our families don’t want to be involved. They just have a lot of barriers, so if we can empower them with the tools and the skills that they need, then it also empowers their families, too.”
Anyone looking to support the Completely KIDS programs can give either financial or in-kind donations as well as serve as a volunteer or attend an event. Griffin said area business and community leaders could also come speak to children to teach them about career opportunities or hobbies they may wish to pursue.
“We’ve created this gorgeous new space and are planning to serve more kids and families in the coming year. There will continue to be financial need with that,” Griffin said. “We want to make sure that our quality programming is the best that it can be, and that takes the support of our community.”
For more on Completely KIDS, go online to completelykids.org or facebook.com/CompletelyKIDS1. Financial donations also can be made to Completely KIDS during the upcoming Omaha Gives event.
Volunteers unload food from Hy-Vee to prepare for the Completely KIDS weekend backpack program at the nonprofit’s headquarter Tuesday, May 15, 2019. (Photo by Scott Stewart)