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Women in Need helps victims of domestic violence

February 04, 2012|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com
  • Exterior view of a proposed Women in Need shelter in Chambersburg, Pa.
Submitted photo

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — For more than four years, the mother of three young children has lived in constant fear when the next brutal beating would come at the hands of her abuser.

“It was bad from the beginning. It started when I was pregnant with our first child,” said the woman in her late 20s, who is not being identified to help protect her safety. “I just stayed, hoping and thinking things would get better, but things didn’t get better.”

For now, she’s safe at a Women in Need shelter in Franklin County.

“I feel it’s a great thing for women to use as a resource — as a safe place for them and their children to get away from violent situations,” she said. “It’s a great thing to have Women in Need to help women who go through situations like this to help us through it to get out of that situation.”

Barb Channing, executive director of Women in Need, said the Franklin County woman in the example above is one of hundreds of women and their children the shelter has served since opening in the late-1970s.

However, Channing said the current shelter has become outdated and no longer adequately meets the needs of victims of domestic violence in Franklin and Fulton counties.

Lisa Dougherty, director of community services for Women in Need, agreed.

“Each unit — or bedroom, really — is cramped with two large bunk beds. There is a communal bathroom on the first and second floors. But, the bathroom on the second floor is very, very small and inadequate for the needs of our clients,” Dougherty said.

There is a kitchen/living room/dining room area for clients and their children. But Dougherty said there isn’t a quiet place to go in the current shelter.

The current shelter staff and board of directors has worked together for nine months to help design a new and improved shelter and advocacy center to better meet the needs of those it serves.

In December 2010, Women in Need embarked on a $3.35 million capital campaign to expand and construct a new 11,000-square-foot Shelter and Advocacy Center in the south end of the borough of Chambersburg, Channing said.

Women in Need has raised $1.2 million toward its $3.35 million goal, Channing said.

She said the organization has allotted three to five years to reach its campaign goal due to the state of the economy.

Women in Need currently has six different locations to house its multifaceted list of services.

Channing said the new shelter and advocacy center would house not only the shelter but also some of the other shelter services, enabling the organization to close three other locations.

The new shelter and advocacy center would offer a more spacious, family-friendly design than the current shelter setting, Dougherty said.

“We’re really excited about this new center and its new layout, and the way it promotes safety,” Dougherty said.

Channing said the building by SGS Architects in Carlisle, Pa., was designed for safety.

“I’m thrilled with the layout. There will not be apartments. There will be suites,” Channing said. “A lot of shelters are designed dormitory-style, but in our design each one- or two-bedroom units has a sitting room. So, they are like little suites, which enables the people coming into the shelter to have family time.”

The shelter can accommodate 24 people.

“We’re very excited. It is a much-needed change —combining a lot of our operations will help us be more efficient and will help us financially, because we’ll have everyone at one location,” Channing said.

To learn more

For more information about Women in Need or WIN’s Capital Campaign, call 717-264-4444 or log onto www.winservices.org.

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