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Women's shelter on the move

August 28, 2000

Women's shelter on the move



By MARLO BARNHART / Staff Writer


With no place to expand and a growing waiting list, W House of Hagerstown is moving and expanding.

"We have purchased the Ted's Rent-It building on North Locust Street," said Christina Trenton, executive director of W House.

W House is a shelter for women recovering from drug and alcohol abuse. Its 37 E. Antietam St. location has nine beds, which are always filled, Trenton said.

The undertaking has been possible through the willingness of Ted Shank, owner of the 519 N. Locust St. property, and Home Federal Savings Bank to take a chance on the W House staff and board members to complete the project.

It's an ambitious undertaking, Trenton said. "Our capital campaign goal for the purchase is $355,000."

The growth and expansion is necessary so W House can continue to provide direct intervention to break the cycle of crime and drugs, she said.

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The average stay is 6 to 9 months.

The building has a brick exterior and is virtually devoid of interior walls. Trenton said she sees that as a plus in terms of planning efficient layouts for bedrooms, offices, common areas, a library/computer room, counseling rooms and bathrooms.

"Right now, we have one bathroom for nine women," Trenton said.

The new site would be designed for 18 women.

Trenton said she hopes half the money needed will come from a grant requested through the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

For the rest, W House is seeking capital funds from the Washington County Gaming Commission, other area foundations and individuals.

W House is a United Way agency. It also receives operating money from the Washington County Health Department and from the women who stay there.

Trenton said a professional fund-raising firm will approach state foundations and prepare other grant applications.

"We've sent out direct mail solicitations," Trenton said. Another possibility is to encourage people to remember W House in their wills.

W House employs four direct care workers and three office staffers. The agency works closely with the Department of Probation and Parole and with the judges in Washington County.

"We have rules and we are strict here and they know that," Trenton said. She believes that strictness is the secret of W House's success.

Trenton said she and her staff don't hesitate to inform authorities when a W House resident breaks the rules.

"Basically what we are doing here is reparenting women who were never parented as girls," Trenton said. "A lot of our graduates come back and say that was why W House worked for them."

Tax deductible donations to W House may be mailed to 37 E. Antietam St., Hagerstown, MD 21740.

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