INDIANAPOLIS — The Damien Center broke ground on its new 56,000-square-foot headquarters.
It is being built on the east side of Indianapolis at the corner of East Washington Street and Oriental Avenue. That's adjacent to the center's existing building on Arsenal Avenue.
The new facility will enable the Damien Center to expand its one-stop-shop model of comprehensive HIV medical care.
"This is an exciting day for the Damien Center," said Alan Witchey, president and CEO at the Damien Center. "The new facility will help us expand and introduce new programs and services that break down barriers and allow our team to provide quality, equitable, and inclusive care."
NOTE: The above video is from a previous report when the new headquarters was announced.
Last year, the center cared for 6,500 unique clients — more than double the number of clients served six years ago.
The center has expanded dramatically since 2018 as the Department of Health and Human Services has pushed to end the HIV epidemic. The center grew from 40 employees to more than 150. As a result, the center has outgrown its current 15,000-square-foot facility.
The new space will include a larger Damien Cares clinic with multiple exam rooms, new dental and vision services, a lab, and an expanded food pantry and pharmacy.
The Damien Center will also be able to expand their current youth programming, housing, prevention, and harm reduction programs.
Plans also include adding up to 10 new programs and services with the additional square footage.
A multi-building Damien Center campus will be created once the new headquarters is completed.
"The Damien Center has been a pillar in the Indianapolis community for more than three decades," Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said in a news release. "A new state-of-the-art headquarters is an opportunity for greater access to fundamental services. Plus, not only will it improve the lives of Damien Center clients, but it will also positively impact the lives of all neighbors who live, work, and play on the near eastside."
Construction on the new headquarters is expected to be completed by the end of 2024.
The $34 million construction project is being funded through existing equity, new market tax credits, private gifts, and other sources. A fundraising campaign, started in September 2022, has raised $3.4 million so far. The original goal was to raise $4 million.
To help with fundraising, Olympic diving legend Greg Louganis will be auctioning off three of his Olympic medals. Some of the money raised will fund the Damien Center's welcome center, which will be named in honor or Ryan White. White is the teenager who fought to attend schools after becoming HIV-positive through a blood transfusion.
"The medals, they’re in the history books," Louganis said. "Instead of holding on to them, I'm aiming to share my piece of Olympic history with collectors; together, we can help the Damien Center and its community to grow and thrive."
Additionally, Louganis is donating a sculpture of White to the Damien Center. Created by artist Bill Mack, "Hope" was a limited-edition series; Mack gave one sculpture each to Louganis, Elton John, Elizabeth Taylor, and Michael Jackson.
"The day we unveil the Welcome Center to honor Ryan White, my friend, will mark one of the most important milestones in my life," Louganis said.
The auction runs through March 31 and can be found by clicking here.