Cumberland Times-News

October 2, 2013

Grant awarded to Friends Aware for building project

Matthew Bieniek
Cumberland Times-News

— CUMBERLAND — Friends Aware received a $185,000 boost to its building plan from the Appalachian Regional Commission. The grant was announced this week by U.S. Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin.

“The grant money will be going for the capital building project,” said Robert Godfrey, executive director of Friends Aware.

The funding was much appreciated.

“We are grateful to the ARC for partnering with us to upgrade our facilities and help the individuals we serve,” said Godfrey. Work has already begun on the building and renovation plan. The grant will expand and renovate the 22,000-square-foot facility on Holland Street. The grant will enable Friends Aware to create 15 new direct care staffing jobs by 2015, according to a news release from the senators.

“A lot of site work was done, a lot of earth has been moved,” Godfrey said.

Friends Aware currently serves around 140 individuals with developmental disabilities who live in Allegany County.

“I am proud that this grant will empower Marylanders with developmental disabilities to live up to their full potential,” said  Cardin. “By providing tools, skills and opportunities, Friends Aware, in conjunction with Appalachian Regional Commission, are strengthening families and communities in Western Maryland.”

 Mikulski also offered her thoughts on the organization.

“Friends Aware in Allegany County helps Marylanders with mental and intellectual challenges to have a way to a better life,” Mikulski said. “This grant will help people move into the workplace and find success there. The result is good for individuals receiving these services, good for employers and good for Maryland’s economy.”

 The total Friends Aware project is expected to cost $2 million. About 60 percent of those funds would go to new construction and 40 percent to renovation. The current building lacks a sprinkler system. The organization has also received some state bond funds over the past two years toward the capital project, including $100,000 during the 2013 General Assembly session.

A complete renovation and addition to the organization’s Life Enrichment Center on Holland Street is planned.

Godfrey said individual and business donations for the capital campaign are gladly accepted. For more information on the capital campaign, visit the organization’s website at: http://www.friendsaware.org/

Contact Matthew Bieniek at mbieniek@times-news.com.