After 10 years of planning and fundraising, the Safe House for Women held a ceremonial groundbreaking on April 6 to celebrate the construction of a new 40-bed shelter.
Due to the confidential nature of the project, the groundbreaking took place at the victims’ tree in Cape County Park North.
The organization, which provides comprehensive services to individuals and families who have experienced domestic violence, has seen the need in the community grow for its services every year. Executive Director Jessica Hill said there were more than 500 reports of domestic violence last year in Cape Girardeau County, and the current 17-bed shelter is full most of the time.
“Last year, we were only able to house half of the people who requested shelter from us,” Hill said. She attributed this to a combination of increased need and the building’s limitations. The existing shelter does not have handicap accessibility or any rooms that can accommodate residents with teenage sons.
“When we are full or can’t accommodate someone, then we have to look at hotel placement or transportation to another shelter or to another safe place like a family member,” Hill said. “But our clients are from our own community, so the best service would be to empower them to stay where their support network, their job and their kid’s schools are. That’s what we really want to be able to do.”
Hill said one of the goals for the new shelter is to provide a living facility that is therapeutic and more like a home. The current shelter is a converted historical home with only one residential bathroom for residents of five bedrooms. The new shelter will include four bathrooms and 10 bedrooms.
“We’re just excited that there’s going to be more places for people to be and more opportunities for privacy for women and their children,” Hill said. “Right now, all we have is a living room and a kitchen. The new space will have a conference room, a classroom, a library, a children’s play area, a family lounge and a quiet lounge.”
To pay for the shelter, the organization has raised $1.2 million through cash donations and pledges to the Safe Tomorrow capital campaign. Hill said it has taken a number of years to raise enough money and gain enough support to move forward with construction, but they are now confident they will reach their fundraising goal of $2.2 million.
The organization has construction financing through Bank of Missouri, and expect the construction process to be completed in about a year. During the construction, Hill said the Safe House will continue fundraising at events like the annual fundraiser in July and the VintageNOW fashion show in October.
Once the construction is completed and the Safe House for Women occupies the new shelter, Hill said they will sell the existing shelter and the funds will go towards the project.
The existing thrift store and outreach center for nonresidential clients, located on Sprigg Street in Cape Girardeau, will remain at their current locations.
“It’s an exciting time for the safe house and we think it’s an exciting time for our community,” Hill said. “We are grateful and we definitely appreciate the overwhelming support that we’ve received.”
For more information on the organization or to contribute to the Safe Tomorrow capital campaign, visit www.semosafehouse.org.