Carson Valley Children's Center nears completion

This summer, Carson Valley Children's Center, also known as Austin's House, will open its doors as a safe place for children to stay until appropriate foster homes can be found. The children's center is named for Austin Kirby, who took his own life a few days after his 15th birthday in 2005.

The 5,382-square-foot building, at 3589 Sunridge Drive, will provide temporary housing for up to 10 children from infants to age 17, who are in emergency situations, such as their parents being arrested.

"They're just here until an appropriate foster home can be located," said Austin Kirby Foundation President Linda Cuddy, while standing inside the building which is under construction. "The whole focus for us is immediate intervention. Children need to know everything's going to be OK. It's crisis intervention."

On Wednesday, the electricity was in, the plumbing was completed and the drywall had just been finished. Next, the stucco will be applied, then all the fixtures will be installed. The building resembles a home, with three entrances that look like wooden doors on a house, with decorative glass windows. The two back entrances are so the children won't have to go through the front office, and both of them lead out into a planned playground.

"The children will never need to leave or come through the front," said board member and project coordinator Terry Palmitier.

The building has 10 bedrooms, five bathrooms, a mud room, a waiting room, a conference room, a supervised visitation room, a controlled-access reception area, a medical treatment room, a social services and a director's office, a play therapy room and what Cuddy called, "the greatest room of all.

"We've designed a country kitchen where kids can do crafts and things," said Cuddy, of a brightly lit room that leads out to the playground.

Cooks will have to be hired, as well as caretakers, security monitors and transportation providers to make up a 15-person staff to man the building for 24 hours a day.

"We'll probably have a lot of CASAs (Court Appointed Special Advocates)," said Cuddy. "They'll go through pretty stringent background checks."

The building is separated into two sides - one for older children and the other for infants and toddlers - each with a living room, five bedrooms, a laundry room and a bathroom. The living rooms will have libraries, TVs and computers, "kind of like the living room of your house," Cuddy said.

Closer to the opening date, the foundation will be accepting donations of clothing, coats, shoes, diapers and toys to keep on hand.

"When the children come here, they may not have anything," said Cuddy. "They could be coming from really volatile, dangerous situations. They might just have a diaper. We're going to make sure there are shoes in every size, coats in every size."

The playground will be in the rear of the building, with playground equipment, a basketball hoop, artificial grass, benches and a sidewalk, interspersed with raised bed gardens.

"Around the play areas we'll actually have a lot of cement where they can ride their bikes," said Palmitier.

Minden landscape architect Sandra Wendel is doing the landscaping, Peter Beekhoff of West Ridge Homes is doing the construction. The building will have the latest in security measures.

The .6 of an acre, located behind the Douglas County Sheriff's Substation, was originally planned for a fire station, but upon investigation the foundation discovered that East Fork Fire & Paramedics actually needed a larger site. The land is leased now, but eventually they hope to purchase it.

"This has been a culmination of three or four years," said Cuddy. "I can't begin to list the number of people who have contributed. We couldn't have done it without them."

The Carson Valley Children's Center is scheduled to open in July or August. A fundraiser, Deal or No Deal, will be held in August. The event in the Sequoia Ballroom of the Horizon Casino Resort in Stateline, includes a game show with prizes and a dinner.

"We may need that to get us open," said Cuddy. "We still need financial support. We're built and furnished, but we'll need to keep the power on.

"It was built by the community and we still need the community to support it."


A $100 donation to the Kids Kare program can take care of one child for one day. Donations to Austin's House can be sent to P.O. Box 784, Minden, NV 89423. For information call 782-6247, or visit the Web site,


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