PACE Center

A rendering of the proposed new center

Courtesy to The Alligator

Tynesha Owens-Vurse said the staff at the PACE Center for Girls, Alachua, used to call her a butterfly.

“They said before we were in PACE, we were in cocoons, and when we came to PACE, we grew up and became a butterfly,” the 17-year-old said.

The facility currently provides education and counseling to 56 girls with troubled histories, such as incarceration, homelessness or family histories of drug abuse. It is now looking for funding to expand, said Becker Holland, the development manager for the center.

A new 3,400-square-foot addition will be named the Butterfly Center. Holland said they’re working to incorporate the symbol into the design and are speaking to groups about adding a butterfly garden around the center.

“That’s kind of the concept about PACE,” Holland said. “We want our girls to spread their wings and fly away and be fabulously successful in life.”

Holland said the number of girls enrolled at the center had doubled over the last four years and the center outgrew their large communal space about two years ago. The new center will serve as a multipurpose room with a kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, shower, a large space for programming like drama or musical shows, speakers, a yoga and meditation space and more.

Currently, the center has only one bathroom with four stalls that is shared with 55 to 60 girls and a microwave they use to heat up breakfast and lunch from Lincoln Middle School that they provide for the girls. New showers, a laundry room and a kitchen would help students who need them.

A health and wellness clinic will also be added to help with easily treatable health issues like sinus infections, colds or flus and gynecological issues and screenings that may arise.

“The possibilities are endless,” Holland said.

It will cost the center about $500,000 to build the new facility, and it is just short about $100,000 from the goal. Holland said money was raised through donations and grants.

“We’re grateful for every dime,” Holland said. “I don’t care if it’s $10 or $10,000. We’re grateful for every cent the community is willing to invest in our mission.”

Contact Christina Morales at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @Christina_M18.

Christina Morales is a journalism sophomore and the Student Government Reporter. Christina is from Miami, Florida and loves a good cup of coffee, her agenda and creating Spotify playlists. If you have a story idea, email her at [email protected]