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Groundbreaking for Refuge Center's new property another step in its quest to offer mental health care

The Refuge Center for Counseling hosted a celebration ceremony Thursday, breaking ground at the site of its future counseling center campus on Long Lane in Franklin.

According to a press release, the Refuge Center “is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that offers high-quality counseling, as low as $19 per session, so that finances are never a barrier to life-changing mental health care. … The construction of the new campus allows the Refuge Center to double its space for children and teen clients and adds many outdoor features, including nature trails, a playground and a prayer chapel.” 

Speakers included Franklin Mayor Ken Moore, Solomon Builders Owner and CEO Nancy Osman, Franklin Police Chief Deborah Faulkner, Refuge Center board member Matt Toy and CEO Amy Alexander.

The Refuge Center spent a year conducting feasibility studies before considering construction, then spent five years surveying 42 properties with an architect. It wasn’t until a board member was riding their bike down Long Lane, saw a “for sale” sign and called Alexander that the Refuge Center found a suitable property. The owners, Mike and Denise Bennett, sold the counseling center seven acres of land for $430,000. Once purchased, the Refuge Center had to work with Franklin’s government to annex and rezone the land.

“That process took about a year with the city, and there were challenges with that as the community, in many situations, for the first time was understanding what we do and whom we care for,” Alexander said. “We had huge champions. There were aldermen … and others who would come to the podium and help the community understand whom we serve, and the reality is that it is us. It’s our friends. It’s our neighbors. Hardship will knock at every door. Not a person won’t be touched by loss, by pain.”

The Refuge Center hopes to raise $700,000 by May to begin construction on the property, $2.5 million by June 2024 so staff can move into the building, and $4 million by June 2026 to be debt free.

“Mental health providers right now are just overwhelmed,” Moore said. “We need to continue to work on fixing that system. Refuge Center has been filling the gap and caring for our community since 2005. 

“I applaud the work that they’re doing and the 70-plus counselors that they have. I especially applaud the patience and persistence to build a new home and how each challenge along the way has been met with enthusiasm and energy and fixing things to get here.”

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