KENTVILLE, N.S. – A Kentville-based women’s shelter has announced it will break ground in 2019 on a new building designed with adaptable capacity and a hub for community services.
Chrysalis House Association, an organization which provides shelter and outreach services to women and children in Hants, Kings and Annapolis counties, planned a special event for the launching of its latest phase of fundraising for the project Nov. 23.
Executive director Ginger MacPhee, who also spent time as a shelter resident, said the new hub building will better serve women and children and result in less people being turned away.
“If other service providers meet women where they already feel safe and comfortable, that increases their connections with the community, their support system, so that when they do go back out on their own, they feel supported,” she said.
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MacPhee said the idea stemmed from a board of directors meeting wherein each problem identified led back to the shelter’s physical structure.
MacPhee said the shelter is located within a century-old house, where its five bedrooms and upstairs space are not accessible and very limiting. She added that this has led to the shelter renting outside programming spaces and turning women away.
“We were realizing that we’re turning a lot of people away just because of the structure of the building, because we can’t accommodate them,” she said.
Construction of the new building is projected to begin in the spring or summer of 2019, and be completed within the following year. The fundraising goal is $3.6 million to cover land and building costs, with nearly $900,000 raised thus far.
The new building will be located in town on River Street and will be fully accessible, and also able adapt to meet the needs of women and children with convertible rooms so those staying, whether a single woman or a mother with five children, have space and can maintain privacy.
“These past challenges were barriers for women staying here. The new shelter will change that and means we can accommodate families to their needs and make their stay more positive and productive,” said MacPhee.
The new building will also act as a hub for services and offer separate in-house space – with residence quarters in a secure wing of the building – for programming, counselling and other activities.
MacPhee said the board of directors made it a priority to build this community space into the building to not only increase direct supports for women and children staying at the shelter, but also so the shelter has a more public profile.
This is because times have changed, she said, and shelters are not a space people should feel ashamed to utilize.
“If you’re in an abusive relationship and you have nowhere to go, it’s a pretty desperate feeling. I know personally how important it is. That ability to know you have somewhere safe you can go to stay – we have saved lives because of that,” said MacPhee.