EASTON — Community members and local, state and other representatives gathered Friday at Channel Marker Foundation’s new wellness center on Glebe Park Drive for a ribbon cutting ceremony.
Debra Jackson, Channel Marker’s executive director and the foundation’s secretary, said she couldn’t thank donors enough for “making our dreams a reality.” She said the project had been a community effort, dedicated to its members. She said the facility means a lot to the group.
“When we knew that we had outgrown our Port Street facility due to our expanding house services, much time and thought went into researching this facility,” Jackson said. “I knew the first time that I walked through here that it would serve our vision completely. ... This is for them.”
Jackson said the group wanted a non-institutional facility that was welcoming, for a group of people that is not always welcomed. Within the new facility, exam and medical rooms allows for faculty to diagnose and treat patients on site, she said.
A new gym also will give patients the ability to work on fitness goals, with high end, new equipment. Program group rooms, a kitchen and other spaces will allow patients the ability to communicate and interact in new areas.
A central garden, named after Beth Dulin and Amy Rhodes, former board members of the Channel Marker Foundation, is the “special place” in the building, Jackson said.
“Amy’s mother-in-law, Charlene Rhodes has led the efforts to make that space unlike any other I have witnessed,” Jackson said. “It is a serene and beautiful space where clients and staff can go when they need a moment to unwinds and just be peaceful.”
Facade improvements also will continue, as the finishing touches are now being put in, Jackson said.
Jackson said the group also would change its name and logo, to reflect the group more accurately. She said the group had been working with the Grayce B. Kerr fund, a local nonprofit, to design a new logo and tagline.
“However, more often than not, many people thought that we were some sort of marine business,” Jackson said. “This rebranding effort is critical to our organization and new brochures, business cards and many other marketing tools will now be showing that we serve people, and not the marine industry.”
Channel Marker Board President John McQuaid said the project had been “a number of years in the making,” and thanked a number of supporters of the effort. He said the capital campaign for the project was officially ended.
“It was a successful campaign, so we are very, very pleased,” McQuaid said.
Tolbert Rowe, an executive director of the Channel Marker Foundation, said when the group started considering the project almost four years ago, the group had a lot of support from the banking community, along with an uphill battle. Rowe said at the moment, the group was carrying less than $200,000 of debt.
“And that’s because of the generosity of our community, of all of you and grants, a lot of hard work on a lot of people’s parts,” Rowe said. “And by doing that and by us not having to service a debt, it basically allows us to accumulate funds, that we become the bank for Channel Marker. So when they have needs for equipment, materials, anything they need, we’re the bank.”
Sen. Adelaide Eckardt, R-37-Mid-Shore, vice president of the Channel Marker Foundation, said she was excited to see the the project come to completion. She said she remembers when the program first began in the basement of a church nearly 20 years ago.
“But I have to tell you that the talent within the staff and the leadership is second to none,” Sen. Eckardt said. “You know it’s been said that ‘without mission, the people will perish,’ well let me tell you, this team is not going to perish because they have vision.”