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Battered Women’s Shelter, Rape Crisis Center open new site

6/12/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

Agency officials seeking funding for residential wing renovations

Shown above is the new Hope & Healing Survivor Resource Center, which houses the Battered Women’s Shelter of Summit & Medina Counties and the Rape Crisis Center of Medina and Summit Counties, located at 974 E. Market St.
Pictured above is the Freedom Room, a residential room sponsored by the Battered Women’s Shelter and Rape Crisis Center Board of Directors.
Photos: Maria Lindsay
DOWNTOWN AKRON — The Battered Women’s Shelter (BWS) of Summit & Medina Counties and Rape Crisis Center of Medina and Summit Counties have collaborated to establish one campus of services at a new location.

The BWS, established in Akron in 1977, provides emergency and supportive services to victims seeking to end family violence at two Akron locations and one in Medina, according to BWS officials. Last year, it provided 22,000 shelter nights for men, women, children and senior citizens, according to BWS officials.

The Rape Crisis Center, established in 1974, is a nonprofit serving sexual assault victims and co-survivors in Summit and Medina counties. It joined the BWS in 2005, according to its website.

Both organizations moved into an administrative wing of the former Middlebury Manor Nursing Home located at 974 E. Market St. that was acquired in the fall of 2012. The 10,000-square-foot space was opened in February 2013 and includes a lobby/reception area and intake rooms created with a $50,000 grant from the GAR Foundation, according to BWS officials. Also, the Northern Ohio Golf Charities Foundation sponsored renovations for the executive conference room/training center.

The organizations’ new home also includes another 40,000 square feet of residential space that is undergoing renovations. The new campus facility, called the Hope & Healing Survivor Resource Center, was unveiled during a June 5 open house.

“This soft opening is being used to raise awareness about what we are trying to do and to seek help in expanding our services,” Linda Diefendorf, a BWS Board member, said at the event.

The campus will act as a survivor resource center for those impacted by domestic and sexual violence and provide space for both agencies to meet growing demands from the community, according to officials.

“Hope & Healing is not only an expansion of our accommodations and services, it is a renewal on our promise to the community and to those survivors in need that they are not alone,” said BWS CEO Terri Heckman.

The new facility includes accommodations for an additional 30 BWS clients from the 68 it already serves at its two Akron locations. Officials said they hope to open a residential floor later this summer.

During the open house, tours were offered of the new administrative wing, as well as the residential floors and common areas. The facility also includes a third floor that is being reserved to offer space for other agencies.

The residential floors will have 41 private rooms and family suites with baths, as well as three rooms for victims of elder abuse, which BWS officials said is a growing problem. In addition, there will be several common areas, a commercial-sized kitchen, a computer room that can be used to teach clients needed skills, a beauty shop with officials seeking salons to sponsor services or job training, a clothing bank for clients, washer and dryer facilities and a patio/balcony offering opportunities for gardening and a safe outdoor space. The exterior also is undergoing renovations. The total cost is estimated to be about $2.2 million, according to BWS officials.

“We are excited about the opportunities for all the services we can offer here,” said Brittany Paliswat, volunteer coordinator during one of the tours.

BWS officials are seeking funding assistance from 40 more sponsor partners such as families, church groups, neighborhoods, businesses and other organizations to complete renovations in the residential wing.

Sponsors can choose to stay involved with the person or families residing in their suite, receive updates on the resident, whose name will be kept private, and will be given the first option to adopt the family during the holiday season to provide gifts or other surprises, according to BWS officials.

The following contributions are being accepted: $10,000 to sponsor a complete suite and name it; $5,000 for plumbing, electrical and air conditioning work; $2,500 for windows, flooring and ceiling improvements; $1,000 for appliances, furniture and fixtures; and $500 for paint, bedding and other miscellaneous items.

The contributions can be paid over the next three years, according to officials. In addition, pledges as small as $20 per month for the next three years are being accepted. Furniture, appliances and skills to help in the renovations also are being sought.

Tours for any group, family, club or business that would like to see how they can get involved are available.

Interested sponsors are asked to contact Melissa Hamlin, director of advancement, at 330-860-5624.

A number of groups have already stepped forward to sponsor rooms or an entire area of the residential areas, according to BWS officials.

They include:

  • Exxon and UnitedHealth Care: the computer/technology room;
  • The BWS and Rape Crisis Boards of Directors: Freedom Room (a residential room);
  • Ken (chairperson of the BWS Board of Directors) and Jill Smith: Harmony Room (a residential room);
  • Brian and Brenda Cummins: a residential room. Brian Cummins is chief financial officer at Ohio Tool Systems Inc. and Brenda Cummins is director of foundation administration and community engagement at Summa Foundation;
  • Barbara Wright, philanthropic supporter of the BWS: a residential room;
  • Jay and Gigi Krasovec and Alan and Robin Rothenbuecher, with Ice Miller LLP: a residential room;
  • The Heckman, Cavanaugh, Gerber families and close family friends: a residential room;
  • Fred and Kathy Bean, of Green, long-time volunteers: a residential room;
  • Keith and Gabrielle Allman, new supporters: a residential room;
  • The Andrea Rose Teodosio Foundation: the first senior-specific shelter suite, with double mattress beds, a recliner or rocking chair, additional lighting, safety bars in the bathrooms, large print reading materials and other senior-specific niceties and necessities. BWS officials are working with the Summit County Department of Job and Family Services, Adult Protective Services Department and Summit County Public Health to determine the needs of this group of domestic violence victims, according to BWS officials.

Volunteers to assist at the new facility, as well as regular supplies, are also needed. For more information on that and the organization, visit www.scmcbws.org or www.rccmsc.org, or call 330-374-0740.

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