ROCKINGHAM — A dream nearly four years in the making came closer to reality Monday as ground was broken for the SECU Women’s Recovery Center at Samaritan Colony.
The center will be a 13,000-square-foot, 14-bed facility on Samartin Colony’s 25-acre campus to help women struggling with substance use disorders and histories of trauma, according to a fact sheet.
Samaritan Colony expects to serve 136 women per year through its 28-day treatment program.
“It’s not all cookie-cutter, and I think women have … different needs than men do,” said Clint Ray, chairman of the Samaritan Colony Board, adding that the center “is something that’s long been needed” in the area. “Today, after years of planning, fundraising, getting certificate of need applications, a whole lot of work, Samaritan is finally ready to move forward with a much-anticipated and long-overdue expansion of our mission.”
Executive Director Harold Pearson, holding back tears, said it was a “special day.”
While Samaritan Colony has been helping men cope with addiction for more than 40 years, Pearson said there was a need to serve women.
But at the time, the campus was only 9 acres and there was nowhere to put it, Pearson said.
In 2009, Samaritan Colony purchased more than 17 acres to add to its campus, according to Pearson.
“When we finally got down to brass tax, after we looked at other places to build a facility, we said, ‘Why don’t we go across the woods here?’” Pearson recalled.
Construction, which is set to begin in the spring, is estimated to cost $3.4 million.
Architect David Stogner, a Richmond County native, said he always passed by Samaritan Colony, which is off of U.S. 220, but never really knew what it was about.
“Harold and Constance (Pearson) had a vision of what they wanted here,” Stogner said. “They said, ‘Once you come out, take a look at what we do, get an idea,’ and, I did … There’s a community, a sense of family, here and I knew this was a project I wanted to be involved with.”
The State Employees Credit Union Foundation provided about a third of the funding, awarding Samaritan Colony a $40,000 Capacity Building grant in October of 2019 and a $1 million grant in September 2020.
“A word that just kept running through my mind this morning was ‘journey,’” said Scott Southern of the SECU Foundation. “So many of you have watched the journey of men over 50 years who have come over the hill and graduated from this program and have really been able to turn their lives around. I think about the journey that the women are going to take as they come here and the transformation and the transition that they will go through … so, it’s just one journey after another.”
Southern said Samaritan Colony Program Director Constance Pearson was key in getting the project off the ground and making sure it stayed on track.
Quality Oil and Gas also helped secure a $5,000 grant from Motiva in February of 2019.
Other financial supporters included Sandhills Center LME/MCO, The Cannon Foundation, The Richmond County Community Foundation, The Cole Foundation, The James R. & Bronnie L. Braswell Trust, The Baxter Foundation, the state of North Carolina, Griffin Automotive Group and other private donors.
Former county commissioner Thad Ussery, who serves as chairman of the Sandhills Center Board, said Samaritan Colony has been a blessing to Richmond County over the years.
“I know a lot of the people that have been through here, and they’ve really been helped,” Ussery said.
Ussery said sometimes he wonders how the center is so effective when others like it are not.
“It’s very simple,” Ussery said. “It’s also a faith-based organization, and to me, that is the key to this organization.
“There’s two parts to a human being: there’s flesh and there’s a spirit, and if you don’t work with both of them, chances are it’s not going to be too successful.”
Samaritan Colony is now raising funds for Phase 2 of its Changing Lives Campaign, which will cover three years of operating expenses and create an endowment fund. That goal is $1.9 million.
NOTE: This story was edited to correct a name. 3:30 p.m. 1-11-22.
NOTE: Foundation for the Carolinas oversees other foundations. Edited 6:05 p.m.