Less than $10,000 away from making an $81,000 match grant with the Meadows Foundation, Gingerbread House children’s advocacy center board president Bernyce Crownover was all smiles Friday.

Walking through the center’s new home at the corner of Ross and Farley streets, Bernyce said she was pleased with the progress being made.

“When this building is done, I’ll feel like a dream has come true,” Bernyce said, announcing a $20,000 donation from her son, Dale Crownover, president and CEO of Texas Nameplate Company Inc., which was founded by her husband and his father, Roy, in 1946.

On hand to make the check presentation to center executive director John Wyckoff was Dale’s wife, Julie Crownover, a founding board member and vice president of the center.

“Dale saw how involved I and his mother have been with this organization, and he wanted to do something in return that we could be honored by,” Julie said. “He knew how hard we were trying to meet the $81,000 goal (for the Meadows match).”

Since the match grant was announced earlier this year, the center has raised almost $72,000 in advance of the November deadline, with Wyckoff saying donations continue to come in for the capital campaign.

The center opened its doors in December 1999 to serve child victims of sexual abuse and or serious physical abuse by providing a child-friendly place to conduct forensic interviews. The Gingerbread House outgrew its original location in a space at the Texas Baptist Home for Children and is currently housed in office space donated by Comerica Bank. Being able to move into its own facilities will allow the center to expand yet again the services it already offers, with an important addition to be that of an in-house therapy program for the child victims and their non-offending family members, Wyckoff said.

The money raised on the capital campaign so far has included funds from an ongoing commemorative brick sale to memorials to major donations for room sponsorships. All are appreciated, said Wyckoff, who points with pride to the listing of donors to date.

And it’s the generosity of those donors that helped secure the Meadows Foundation matching grant for the duration of the capital campaign, he said, noting the foundation was able to see the amount of community support the Gingerbread House has garnered in its capital campaign. That played a key role in receiving the grant, Wyckoff said.

“We appreciate all of our donors and supporters,” Wyckoff said, “and a big thank you goes to the Crownover family for all they have done.”

“This has been four years in the making,” Bernyce said, standing in what will be the welcoming area of the new facility and discussing the decision that had been made by the board to move forward in acquiring property and constructing its own offices.

“We had skeptics and critics who said we could never do it,” she said of the project.

The new facility will provide much-needed office space for members of the center’s multi-disciplinary team, which includes child protective services, juvenile probation, prosecution, law enforcement and the center’s staff. Once in the facility, Wyckoff said the center will add an in-house therapy program, have space for its volunteers and offer training programs for the team members and community.

And it has been a community effort that has helped the center attain the success it has, Wyckoff said, noting all donations, no matter the size, are welcomed as the Gingerbread House completes and outfits its new facility.

The donations have ranged in size from a handful of change on up - with the donors themselves representing a cross-section of the community.

This past week, the center received a check for $1,277.50 raised by Ennis Junior High School students. That donation also will be matched by the Meadows Foundation grant, Wyckoff said, expressing his appreciation to the students and school for their efforts on behalf of the Gingerbread House.

“We’ve now raised $71,140, or 88 percent of the goal,” he said. “We only need $9,860 to complete the matching grant.”

Builder Bob Agar of Ennis anticipates a move-in date later this year, with Wyckoff saying the center is eagerly anticipating the move and planning an open house and grand opening.

The center serves all communities and areas in Ellis County, working with the police departments in Waxahachie, Ennis, Bardwell, Ferris, Palmer, Maypearl, Midlothian, Milford, Italy, Garrett, Glenn Heights, Red Oak, Ovilla and Venus as well as the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office.

Last fiscal year, 176 children were interviewed at the Gingerbread House, and 190 were interviewed the year before - and these are only the reported cases. This fiscal year to date, more than 90 children have been interviewed, which puts the center on pace to exceed last year’s total. The center also conducts interviews of child witnesses upon request of a police department.

Additional executive board members include treasurer Mike Navarro, secretary Peggy Atwell and past president Chris Aldama.

For more information on the capital campaign and matching funds, contact the Gingerbread House at P.O. Box 2838, Waxahachie, 75168; call (972) 937-1870; or e-mail john.eccac@ectisp.net.

E-mail JoAnn at editor@waxahachiedailylight.com