Grace Place opens expansion in hopes to help even more Collier County families

A Collier County organization helping 1,200 low-income families is now getting even bigger.

The Grace Place (WINK News)

The Grace Place for Children and Families cut the ribbon on its five-acre expansion Tuesday.

The center is located just off of 21st Avenue Southwest in Naples. Since it opened, it’s expanded by 20,000 square-feet.

Usbeidy Gutierrez started going to Grace Place as a little girl after her family moved from Mexico. Now, she’s a mom of two with one more on the way and still goes to the center.

“This is my safe place,” she said. “I find a little bit of sanity, being away for three hours from my kids, but also learning what they’re learning and helping them get better at it.”

Usbeidy Gutierrez, mom and Grace Place volunteer. (WINK News)

The center provides programs of all kinds to help more than 1,000 kids and adults in Golden Gate, where nearly 90% of those they serve live at or below the poverty line.

“In the Golden Gate community, the highest concentration of at-risk children and families reside in a four-square-mile radius of Golden Gate City and Grace Place happens to be at the center of that four-square-mile radius,” said Dr. Tim Ferguson, CEO of Grace Place.

Among them are moms like Berenice Garcia.

“I just want to be involved in my daughters’ lives and I realized I need to speak English to be a better mom for them,” said Garcia.

And Tuesday with the cut of a ribbon, Grace Place will be able to help even more families.

Their new state-of-the-art five-acre campus is part of a seven-year expansion plan that upgraded their facilities.

Ribbon cutting of the new addition to the Grace Place. (WINK News)

“We have grown from about 10,000 square-feet to about 40,000 square-feet of program space. So we now have the ability to serve very young children all the way up to adults,” said Ferguson.

“They give us experience. They give us hope,” said Gutierrez, to build a better life for herself, her little ones and her community.

Grace Place raised $13 million, mostly from donors, to expand its campus. Tuesday also marks the center’s 15th anniversary.

Reporter:Breana Ross
Writer:Briana Harvath
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