historic risley

The auditorium in the Risley Colored Memorial School on Albany Street.

The idea is to create a one-stop shop for the numerous local resources that aim to support low-income families, by bringing those services together in a single location and under one roof.

That dream cannot even begin to become reality without a roof to put it under.

But this hurdle has finally been cleared by the local Community of Hope project, called “Rebirth Risley,” the goal of which is to create a community resource center on the Risley campus on Albany Street in Brunswick.

Tres Hamilton, CEO of Coastal Georgia Area Community Action Authority, announced at a quarterly meeting Thursday for those participating in the project that the property, previously owned by the Glynn County Board of Education, has officially transferred now to the Rebirth Risley team.

“As of last Thursday,” Hamilton said, “we now have the entire campus.”

The selected location is intentional, as this Risley campus is located in the heart of one of the poorest neighborhoods in Brunswick and is adjacent to a large public housing neighborhood.

“We knew that being here would be the perfect place for all of us to be able to wrap ourselves around those families that we work with and give them a continuity of care,” Hamilton said.

The Rebirth Risley project officially began in July 2018, when Coastal Community Action Authority submitted an application for the “State of Hope” program offered by the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services. State DFCS approved the project proposal in September 2018 and offered a promise for initial grant money for the project.

The goal is to revitalize the Risley neighborhood and provide the support these families need to lift themselves out of poverty. Local nonprofits, businesses and other groups will have space on the campus and offer a wide range of services.

The Rebirth Risley project has numerous over-arching goals. Those include the improvement of education attainment through after school programs, early education opportunities, GED classes and more. The center will also provide trauma-informed care services, programs that foster self-sufficiency and economic security, as well as neighborhood revitalization initiatives that support new jobs.

“We needed to have those services in a location where our families are, so that our families aren’t searching around for us and aren’t looking for us and aren’t running from one organization to the next, trying to get those vital services that they need in order to be able to have a better quality of life for themselves and for their children,” Hamilton said.

An agreement between the local school board and Coastal Community Action Authority allowed for a period of due diligence, which has now been completed, said Rita Spalding, agency attorney for Community Action Authority. Other preliminary steps have also been taken, she said, and the next objective is to create a business structure for the center.

“What I wanted to do was put all of our pillars in place, so that as we go to grant applications and donors, we have the questions answered,” Spalding said. “They are answered. We are good to go.”

The plan is for the various resources housed in the center to share the expenses, including power bills, insurance costs and more.

The meeting participants also heard an update Thursday on the branding plans for the project. H20 Creative Group in Brunswick has designed logos for the Community of Hope and Rebirth Risley brands, as well as a “Rise” logo that encompasses the ultimate goal of the project — to not only give birth to a new Risley community but also to help that community continue rising.

The next steps in the project will be to look over blueprints and begin determining the costs for groups to move onto the campus.

The next quarterly meeting is planned for Dec. 5 at 10 a.m. at Coastal Community Action Authority.

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