Agassi gives $800,000 to Child Haven shelter

Fri, May 3, 1996 (11:59 a.m.)

Tennis star and Las Vegas resident Andre Agassi is donating $800,000 to Clark County's aging home for abused and neglected children.

The proceeds from the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation will be spent on a $1.1 million educational center at Child Haven, which has cared for the county's neglected children for 25 years.

The rest of the money for the center will come from the county's capital improvements fund.

The money is part of the $2 million raised by last year's Grand Slam for Children at the MGM Grand Garden to help at-risk youths. The second Grand Slam is scheduled for Sept. 21 at the same place and will feature British pop stars Elton John and Seal.

The Clark County Department of Family and Youth Services received a check for $400,000 at today's press conference announcing the concert. The Foundation will donate another $400,000 when the learning center is finished next summer, said Adrienne Cox, assistant director for Family and Youth Services.

Groundbreaking on the 10,000-square-foot center is slated for Aug. 1.

"We were expecting this," Cox said. "It's going to be put to great use."

The East Bonanza Road shelter for abused children was built in 1971 and was beginning to show its age until FYS began its Adopt-A-Cottage fund drive to renovate the cottages that were designed to house 80 kids but on a given day have as many as 150.

The campus includes a two-room schoolhouse where the Clark County School District runs an education program for the kids who live at the shelter.

"It's very small, woefully inadequate for the number of kids at Child Haven on a daily basis," Cox said. Those kids are "woefully behind in school, and we have facilities to provide the individualized education they need."

Cox said she knew about the donation because Agassi and his foundation's executive director, Julie Walther, toured the campus several months ago and asked what they could do to help.

Walther said the $800,000 is not the end of Agassi's involvement with Child Haven.

"Andre really was touched when he visited," Walther said. "He said this program means a lot to him."

The other $1.25 million raised by the first Grand Slam has been pledged to the Boys & Girls Club, Walther said.

Other organizations have rallied around Child Haven, helping the Adopt-A-Cottage program exceed its original goal of $600,000 for renovations, Cox said.

"We have raised, between cash and in-kind contributions, $850,000," Cox said, including one home builder who renovated one entire cottage at a cost to himself of $170,000.

In addition, the Greenspun Foundation has donated $25,000 to Kaufman and Broad to renovate the Ruthe Deskin Activity Center at Child Haven. Deskin is assistant to the publisher of the Las Vegas SUN, which is owned and run by the Greenspun family.

In addition to private donations, Family and Youth Services is scheduled to get $46 million if voters approve the regional justice bond referendum in the September primary.

The child welfare division is scheduled to get $10 million of the bond money for housing and treatment, Cox said. The money will be used on renovations and a new children's center, Cox said.

Currently, abused and neglected children are brought in for processing at the same location as juvenile delinquents.

"In a community as affluent as ours, care and treatment of neglected and abused children should be a priority," Cox said.

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