Home Local News ‘UNDER ONE ROOF’: Sandhills Children’s Center completes construction project

‘UNDER ONE ROOF’: Sandhills Children’s Center completes construction project

Melanie Gayle, former CEO of Sandhills Children's Center, speaks in front of the new breezeway during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Jan. 26, 2023. Photo by William R. Toler - Richmond Observer

ROCKINGHAM — The walk between buildings at Sandhills Children’s Center will now be a little better.

Several students helped snip the ribbon as the center celebrated the completion of a long-awaited construction project — dubbed “Under One Roof” — at its facility on Crow Run, off of Long Drive, Thursday afternoon.

“The best thing about the expansion and renovation is the construction of the breezeway which connects all three of the buildings,” said Robin Duff, communications and events manager for Sandhills Children’s Center.

Before construction, Duff continued, there was no protection from the elements.

“So teachers who would have to come from the main building to collect lunch trays … would be exposed to sleet, rain, snow at times,” Duff went on to say. “And it was a very uneven parking lot surface, so there were times when the entire lunch would end up on the concrete.”

Duff added that the uneven pavement made it difficult for children with mobility issues to traverse between the classrooms and therapy gym.

“So we are thrilled about the connecting of the three buildings with a protection against the elements,” Duff said.

The center also boasts a “larger, smoother” parking lot, an additional therapy room — which Duff said was “very badly needed” — and the buildings were expanded to offer more office and storage space.

“This is going to change the lives of so many people,” said Melanie Gayle, former CEO of the center who initiated the project. She retired last summer and Dr. Kim Bullard took the reins.


Both Gayle and Rob Barrett, chairman of the center’s board, said the expansion wouldn’t have been possible without community support.

Much of that support came from groups including the Cannon Foundation, Cole Foundation and Truist Foundation.

The expansion was designed by Stogner Architecture and the work was done by Hawks Builders.

The groundbreaking ceremony was held in April 2022.

Sandhills, based in Southern Pines, bought the three buildings — previously a daycare — and opened its Rockingham center in 2008.

Contrary to public perception, Sandhills serves all children, not just those with developmental or physical disabilities, according to Program Director Jennifer Decker.

During the groundbreaking, Decker said there was a waiting list at both locations.

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Managing Editor William R. Toler is an award-winning writer and photographer with experience in print, television and online media.