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St. Jude’s Healing Center slated to be finished this fall

Construction is moving at a steady pace as the Healing Center at St. Jude’s Ranch for Children is getting closer to becoming a reality.

This week Dr. Christina Vela, CEO of St. Jude’s Ranch for Children, said she’s pleased with the progress. She said all the buildings are under construction and that the school will be completed in April of this year. The Clark County School District principal has officially been hired and is physically working on campus in Boulder City. She is planning to welcome students in the fall and is preparing to hire her team for the school soon.

“Thankfully, there have been no major delays,” Vela said of the overall project. “We anticipate the construction to be complete in September 2024.”

St. Jude’s broke ground on its 10-acre Healing Center campus in October 2022. According to provided information, a series of individual therapeutic, one-story homes will mimic a neighborhood setting, with walking paths and extensive landscaping designed to foster a sense of safety. Therapy offices and outside areas will encourage transformation through connection to nature. At the same time, additional plans call for a multi-purpose building to include an on-site school, meeting space, library, computer lab, and a yoga and meditation room.

The Healing Center will feature six homes, three of which will have four bedrooms and the other three with six bedrooms. The smaller homes will be for the new arrivals as they later progress to the larger homes. At capacity, 62 children — most of whom will be court-appointed or referred — could be housed at any given time. In order to assist with these children, specialists trained to work with victims of sex trafficking will be hired.

Beyond the homes will be the aforementioned school in partnership with the Clark County School District. It’s believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, based on Vela’s research. The school will have a variety of offerings for children as they eventually prepare to graduate from high school. The school will include a community garden, a tortoise habitat and a lot of outdoor activities.

This project comes with a price tag nearly $25 million. Through a variety of partnerships and donations both big and small, Vela said it is truly a group effort. To date they have raised more than $16 million. Some of those donations have included $5 million from CCSD, $4 million from Clark County, multiple casino partners including Caesars and MGM, a $2 million grant from the Engelstad Foundation and $500,000 from both the Nevada Elks and Nevada Women’s Philanthropy.

“I feel so incredibly honored for such an outpouring of support that has taken a dream and is about to turn it into a reality,” Vela said. “I often think of the kids I have recently met, or heard about, that I know will benefit from this program when it’s up and running, and while I wish this level of service was not needed; I am thankful it is coming soon. I am so grateful, proud of us, and hopeful for the future.”

Vela said they are still raising funds as they are in need of $8 million to round out their capital campaign.

St. Jude’s recently launched a Healing Hearts campaign in which people can donate (gifting starts at $100) and receive a lock to be placed on an iron heart sculpture.

Local artist Luis Varela-Rico is creating several of the interactive metal heart sculptures, which will be seen in public places throughout the community.

“They will eventually rest in the Healing Center gardens for survivors to be inspired and know that the community cares,” Vela said. “This way, donors will not only have the chance to add to the beauty of the campus, but also, they will be helping to heal the hearts of the youth that will live there.”

For more information on donating, visit Healingheart.givesmart.com.

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