Wednesday, December 06, 2000

Women's center strives for homelike atmosphere

By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT — A new shelter for battered women and their families has all the comforts of home: the audible spring of a toaster; shiny white appliances waiting to bake, microwave and kick into wash cycles; expansive windows inviting in sunshine.

        Staff members at Women's Crisis Center couldn't be more pleased. The homey setting in a residential neighborhood is exactly what the Covington-based agency has been working toward since embarking on a $1.5 million capital campaign in summer 1999 to open the new shelter.

[photo] Alison Albrinck, director of the Women's Crisis Center, sorts children's books at the center's new location in Newport.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
| ZOOM |
        Women's Crisis Center houses about 500 women a year. The average stay is two weeks.

        “It's a wonderful relief to know we can finally provide women with an environment they deserve,” said Alison Albrinck, program coordinator. “Everyone has the right to feel safe and comfortable.”

        Women began moving into the new building last week. It has eight bedrooms, four bathrooms, a kitchen, elevator, living room, dining area, staff lounge and several offices. It can serve 30 women and children.

        On Monday night, seven females and eight children stayed in the new shelter that once was a simple two-story, four-bedroom house. Homey touches were everywhere: A children's room crowded with boxes of toys. A fireplace in a living room area. Decorated Christmas trees and colorful, hand-sewn quilts.

        It's far different from the old shelter - in a commercial building in Highland Heights, which closed with the opening of the new one in Newport.

        The replacement is larger, cleaner and less institutional center, staff members said.

        They hope the new environs will inspire women to stay at the shelter for a lengthier spell and take full advantage of the counseling, case management and other services that the center offers.

        “It's as homelike as possible,” said Joyce McNeely, the center's development director.

        She is thrilled to finally see the shelter open its doors to women and children needing a safe, comfortable haven.

        “It was very emotional for us,” she said of the move. “This was a dream four years ago. It really is overwhelming.”

        Women's Crisis Center is about 24 years old. The Highland Heights facility was open for 13 years.

        The center also has a shelter in Maysville.

        Women's Crisis Center remains $125,000 shy of its $1.5 million campaign goal. To contribute, call (859) 491-3335.

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