Don Butler was looking for a cash infusion. Cynthia Mackey was looking for a growth opportunity for her fledgling counseling service. They both found what they needed at 901 Beauty Ave. in Bowling Green.
Mackey will soon move her Balance Therapeutic Care Co. to that address, thanks to a purchase made by one of her interns, Jennifer Powell, that will give a quarter-million-dollar boost to the cash-strapped Community Action of Southern Kentucky that Butler leads.
The 5,000-square-foot building, which is next door to Community Action’s headquarters building at 921 Beauty Ave., was up for sale by CASK when Mackey discovered it by chance.
A former employee of the Community Action Head Start program, Mackey said she noticed a “for sale” sign in front of the building while dropping off materials at the CASK offices.
“I looked at the building, and the way it’s divided is perfect for our needs,” said Mackey, who started Balance Therapeutic four years ago. “That space will allow us to do more group therapy. This has been a vision of mine for a while.”
Volunteers from Franklin Community Church and Hillvue Heights Church are renovating the building now, and Mackey hopes to set up shop there in “a couple of months.”
Mackey has been operating her company out of 1,600-square-foot offices near Lehman Avenue and U.S. 31-W By-Pass, so the Beauty Avenue location will be a significant upgrade.
“We’ve run out of space here,” Mackey said of her current offices. “This will more than triple our size.”
She said Balance Therapeutic is already advertising for positions to add to its staff of seven therapists and four interns.
One of those staff additions will be Powell, who is on track to finish her master’s degree in mental health counseling this summer and then make the transition from intern to therapist at Balance.
A Monroe County native, Powell said she was moved to make the $250,000 purchase and then lease the building to Balance because of the experience she has had working with Mackey and her staff.
“I was looking for a place to do my internship, and I came here for an interview,” Powell said. “They were like family from day one. I talked to my husband first, and he backed me 100 percent.
“One of the reasons I want to be a part of it (Balance Therapeutic) is Cynthia. I hope I can be as good as she is as a therapist.”
Powell’s excitement at helping Mackey find new quarters for her company may be exceeded by that of Butler, hired as CASK’s interim executive director in April 2018 and tasked with returning the nonprofit agency to financial solvency.
Butler, who worked at CASK from 1985 until his retirement in 2005 and was executive director for much of that period, inherited a balance sheet heavily in the red from the tenure of former executive director Melissa Weaver.
CASK, which oversees the GO bg Transit bus service, assistance on energy bills, the Head Start preschool program and senior centers throughout a 10-county region, had a $970,494 deficit on a budget of about $14 million for the 2017-18 fiscal year and is on track for more red ink this year.
As part of a strategy to right the ship, Butler succeeded in getting all 10 counties to sign off on a $500,000 loan from the Kentucky Association of Counties. Now he has liquidated an asset that was once home to CASK’s transportation and weatherization programs but has been vacant for the past four years.
“We needed the cash to help overcome some of the difficulties we’re dealing with,” Butler said. “I think this will be a good partnership. We’ll be working with our Head Start staff on referring some families to them (Balance Therapeutic).”
Butler hinted that the sale of the Beauty Avenue building might not be the only asset liquidation the agency will pursue as he continues trying to beef up its bottom line.
For now, his loss of some real estate is seen as Balance Therapeutic’s gain.
Mackey said her company serves 86 children and adults now. She thinks that number has room to grow.
“We currently do individual counseling,” she said. “Now we will be able to add group therapy.”
Mackey also wants to increase her utilization of Western Kentucky University students as mentors for children served by Balance Therapeutic, and she wants to start what she calls a “restoration room.”
“It will be a place for anyone who wants to restore themselves,” she said. “They can come to a quiet place and meditate.”
Butler is excited to hear Mackey’s plans, which include utilizing a large backyard as a playground for children.
“This partnership probably is an act of God,” Butler said. “When you get the right people together, good things happen.”