Shockey completed the Laurel Center’s three-story shell first, but the project had been delayed while additional funds were being raised. Building commenced again a few years later, and the 20,254 SF facility was finished — ahead of the construction schedule — in only a few months.
Founded in 1983, The Laurel Center is a nonprofit organization that provides emergency shelter and support to more than 2,500 people annually through 18 programs and services. It is the only organization in its region that offers counseling and education regarding domestic and sexual violence.
The former building had enough room to shelter 14 people. Grandfathered by old building codes, it was unable to serve people with walking disabilities because of tight spaces and stairs. The new structure meets current Americans with Disabilities Act standards, housing administrative offices and providing a computer lab for residents’ use, a fenced and secure children’s play area, a teen room, a large commons, and 32 beds for women and their children seeking shelter.
According to the organization’s Executive Director Faith Power, the openness about the building’s location represents an enormous cultural change in attitudes about domestic and sexual violence.
“The building helps make the community more aware of the problems of violence and makes it easier for abused individuals to find out about the shelter and our various services,” remarked Power in a recent newspaper editorial. “By hiding our location, we were reinforcing the idea that battered individuals had done something shameful, that they had done something wrong, and the community was not responsible,” she said.
“The building outwardly is a simple design, but there is nothing simple about the building. Built as a secure space for survivors of domestic and sexual assault, it is both therapeutic and safe,” Power said.
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