November 14, 2013 - 1:50 PM
PENTICTON - It could be five years before women fleeing abuse will have a place to go to that offers it all — emergency housing, lawyers, and family councelors — but changes are happening at the current facility.
These days, the South Okanagan Women in Need Society, having shifted their office from the second floor to the third floor of their Martin Street address would just be happy if everything was out of moving boxes, filed and organized. The move is an improvement, increasing space for employees and offering more room for families. It includes an exercise space partially filled with donated fitness equipment. By January, they expect to have a program for women who were abused as children and lawyers volunteering their time to help with divorce and other legal matters.
But the big and future dream is a new facility, a safe place for women and children to access councelors and administrators.
Society executive director Eleanor Summer said the new building is still three to five years away and might cost about $14 million. She cautioned that's a really early estimate and would apply if a site was built from scratch. The society could find and re-purpose an existing building instead.
Funding would come from the province as well as the society's own fundraising efforts. Recent rule changes allow not-for-profit's to start businesses where the profit comes back to fund the not-for-profit. Summer said young people at a Lower Mainland youth-at-risk centre run a catering business. Another not-for-profit has a realty enterprise.
The society in Penticton has a thrift store but will need more businesses if the society wants its one-stop-shop. Right now, the society runs low income housing and shelters at off-site locations but space is tight.
"We have such little stock in social housing in this community," she said. There used to be older buildings in the city but they were bulldozed and sold for condo and other development.
She said a new site for the society will mean not only living spaces for women in need but provide them easier access to administration and counseling staff as well as instilling a greater sense of security.
"I do know when you put your mind to it, it can be done."
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