GEORGE NEWS - The long-established non-governmental organisation Life Community Services (LCS) is in dire straits after being given final notice to move their operation from Main Street, Parkdene, by the end of June. It gives them less than 40 days to be off the property.
"We have been consumed by our search for suitable alternative properties for months, but we are still at a dead end," said LCS director Sally Versveld on Monday. The George Herald last year reported that they were looking for an alternative site.
They also started a fund-raising committee as they had been offered the option of buying the property from their landlord. Their rental contract ended in the middle of last year and since then they have been renting on a month-to-month basis.
CEO Maryna de Vries said R1-million has been raised since the beginning of the year and they need a further R4-million to buy the property. "Buying would be our first choice as we have put up permanent facilities here.
We have been here for the past 17 and a half years. If we move, operations will have to be shut down temporarily, and where will the children go then? We feed 1 000 kids every day. Our aftercare provides a safe haven for kids that parents have come to trust."
Their facilities and services on the premises (corner of Main Street and Mandela Boulevard) include a kitchen, Life Christian Academy private school, Isipho sustainable development project, an aftercare centre, sustainable food garden, training facility and a community centre. They also offer holiday clubs that keep children constructively occupied during holidays.
"We really do play a crucial role in the community." Life Christian Academy was started three years ago and offers quality tuition at affordable fees from Grade 1 to 3. Versveld said if they had the means and space, the school's growth would "explode". There is a long waiting list.
David May, LCS funding and marketing officer, said even if they had enough money to buy the current property, they would need more land if they wanted to expand the school.
They want to add Grade 4 next year, and it would be a squeeze to fit it in on the current property, which is 5 000m² in size. They aim to eventually include up to Grade 7.
Call for help
A private town planner has voluntarily compiled an inventory of vacant land in the areas served by LCS. De Vries said they are planning to approach the municipality regarding municipal properties that are among these, but most of them are zoned for open space. Hope that a private owner with an extensive property earmarked for development would rent or sell some land to LCS has not realised.
"If we were to buy the property we are on, we would save R14 000 in rental cost. We need at least 5 000m² to replace what we have now, but for future expansion, a bigger or even a second property is necessary. If we are owners or even if we have a long-term lease contract we would qualify for a substantial subsidy from the education department."
Be it through donations or help in their search for a suitable property, the public's involvement is desperately needed. "George has a compassionate community and we now appeal to them urgently to please help us in our distress," said De Vries.
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