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Aug. 11, 2003 – After years of effort and obstacles, The Safety Zone will inaugurate its shelter for victims of domestic abuse in Estate Grunwald on Sunday with an open house from 1 to 5 p.m.
Iris Kern, Safety Zone executive director, said that since it's impossible to keep a secret on St. John, she does not feel the safety of the shelter's future occupants will be compromised by holding an open house and letting the public know where the facility is located.
"We have a direct phone line to the police" at the shelter, she said. Additionally, the entrance door is made of steel.
The Safety Zone started preliminary work on the shelter in the late 1990s on land donated by Peter Keen. His daughter, Lucy, committed suicide, and the shelter is named Lucy's Place in her memory.
So far, the facility has two bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchen and an office. Plans call for the addition of four more bedrooms when funding becomes available.
Federal Community Development Block Grant awards totaling $300,000 provided the funding for this first phase. The Safety Zone has been approved by the Turnbull administration for another $75,000 in 2003 CDBG funding that's intended for the expansion. The governor's grant recommendations still need legislative approval.
While many agencies serving victims of domestic violence use pre-existing homes as shelters, the high real estate prices on St. John left the Safety Zone with no choice but to build, Kern said.
Much of the finish work and furnishings were donated, she said. "We still need some mattresses," she added.
The shelter décor is attractive with touches like nice tile in the bathroom, extensive landscaping and fresh colors, Kern said. Too many shelters look like places for women who have hit bottom, she said, while the look of this one should help women to know they are on the way back up.
"It's not luxurious, but it's more than adequate," she said.
She said the neighborhood is quiet and has a safe feel.
St. John has a serious need for a shelter, Kern said. The Safety Zone's resources were so stretched this winter that one woman slept on the agency's office floor for three weeks because there was nowhere else to house her. And the agency had to turn away four women for lack of a place to give them shelter.
Kern said she is gratified by the outpouring of help and pleased that the shelter is "finally coming together."
Anyone wanting to attend the open house and needing directions may obtain them by calling the Safety Zone office at 693-7233.

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