After nearly eight years of operating in downtown Turlock, Jessica’s House is in the early stages of building a new, right-sized home.
Since 2012, a small rental house on East Main Street has served as a safe haven for grieving children through the local nonprofit. Jessica’s House was founded by EMC Health, Inc. and is the vision of Executive Director Erin Nelson, who saw the need for the program after her own experience raising children after her husband died. The program has grown immensely since then, with more children, teens, young adults and their families seeking grief support. Now, the charity needs more space.
Plans call for a permanent 15,600 square-foot facility on the same property as Cornerstone Church, 4105 Crowell Rd., that will allow Jessica’s House to serve even more children and their families. During summer 2019, the church provided the vacant portion of their property on generous terms, spurring architectural planning and plenty of fundraising.
Jessica’s House for Healing Hearts capital campaign has gained momentum over the past six months as major donors have made personal and corporate pledges toward the organization’s plans for a permanent home. Leaders of Jessica’s House announced on Tuesday that they now have $800,000 remaining to raise to maximize a donor match of up to $3 million from EMC Health, Inc. The total fundraising goal is $6 million.
“Our board is dedicated to the future of Jessica’s House,” EMC Health, Inc. CEO Linda Stuhmer said. “We have personally and professionally witnessed the compassionate work of our Jessica’s House staff and hundreds of grief support volunteers over the years.”
In the past several days, the campaign received commitments of $200,000 each from the Foster and Gallo families. The two major commitments matched an earlier lead campaign gift from the Rogers family, which was instrumental in launching the For Healing Hearts campaign in the middle of 2019.
“Our community loves Jessica’s House because they love how we care for and support grieving families,” capital campaign chair Nancy Daley said.
The building permit process for the new Jessica’s House location is underway, spearheaded by Mark Kirkes of MK Electric & Design Inc. The two-story building will be designed to look like a craftsman style house. The first floor will contain multiple, separate meeting rooms for various age groups, a larger group meeting area and specialty rooms centered on specific grief therapeutic strategies, such as art, music, games and more. The second story will have office space for volunteers as well as a meeting room for adults, and outside of the building will be a play area, a teen activity area and a quiet courtyard.
If funds can be raised in time, construction could start in the spring and the new Jessica’s House will be ready to serve families in early 2020.
“Now that we have under a million to raise, it really feels like we are in range of fulfilling our dreams,” Nelson said.
The For Healing Hearts campaign steering committee continues its outreach to potential campaign donors, with the goal of raising the last $800,000 by the end of this year.
“We have been meeting with major donors who can pledge at least $10,000 over five years to be part of Jessica’s House Heart Circle,” Jessica’s House director of development Davis Woods said. “We are also discussing room dedication opportunities with donors who are committing $50,000 or more over five years. Rooms include spaces for all ages, play spaces, talking spaces and special areas for therapeutic music or drama.”
Members of the community who wish to donate to Jessica’s House campaign for a permanent home are invited to contact Woods at firstname.lastname@example.org or Daley at email@example.com. More information is available at jessicashouse.org.