Group hopes to repurpose Fifth Street building


JASPER — Tammy Lampert knows that Dubois County residents love to see old buildings repurposed and given new life.

If that sounds like you, you might be happy to know that Lampert and her organization, the Southwestern Indiana Child Advocacy Center Coalition, hope to do just that inside a portion of the soon-to-be-vacated Fifth Street Elementary School in Jasper.

This month, Lampert told members of the Greater Jasper School Board that SWICACC would like to turn the newest addition of the building into a child resiliency center, which would bring together several nonprofit organizations under one roof.

“I think that will increase the awareness in the community,” Lampert, who is SWICACC’s director, said in a phone interview. “To know what resources are available [and] where to find them. It also allows all of us to work together.”

Lampert didn’t say which organizations could potentially be merged in the center — which would be located in the 1991 addition to the school that stretches west from near the current main entrance and office area — but she did say they would be youth-serving groups.

SWICACC provides forensic interviewing services to children reporting abuse in Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Martin, Orange, Perry and Spencer counties. The nonprofit launched in 2009 when it was recognized that Southwestern Indiana did not have adequate services for child abuse victims and their caregivers.

Lampert explained that the organization now desperately needs to expand.

“We need more room,” she said. “Our hope is to bring medical services on site so that when children need the sexual assault exams, that can be done in a little bit of a less scary space. And then also, looking in the future, to partner with mental health providers so that children can receive those kinds of services at the center.”

She continued: “The ultimate goal is just to increase the resiliency of youth in our area.

The full project plan has yet-to-be firmed up, but Lampert said her next steps include compiling a project team with area experts, brainstorming how to make the space the best for the organizations and their clients, and seeking donations and financial sponsors.

SWICACC could potentially begin moving in and remodeling the space in April 2021. Potential flooding issues would be addressed in any areas of concern.

The school board voiced support for Lampert’s efforts. Members approved a motion stating interest in moving forward with the SWICACC on a plan to convert that part of Fifth Street Elementary into a children’s resiliency center once the school corporation moves out of the building.

“I like the idea of a resiliency center,” Superintendent Tracy Lorey said in a phone interview. “We are all working to advocate for all of the students, and I think being able to repurpose a portion of that building for that effort just makes sense for a school district.”

SWICACC currently has four advocacy center locations throughout Southern Indiana, but none of them have typical offices or can facilitate training. Both of these could come to life in the Fifth Street space.

“There’s just a lot of opportunity for that collaboration to greatly impact the community, the organizations, the kids that we see throughout the area,” Lampert said. “I’m excited about it.”

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