Aug. 17, 2003 — Palm trees line the gravel path to The Safety Zone's new shelter, Lucy's Place, in Estate Grunwald. Attractive artwork hangs on the freshly painted walls, and volunteers' ingenuity at turning sows' purses into silk ears shows throughout the small building.
"Everything is donated, so we spruced it up," Safety Zone executive director Iris Kern said at Sunday's open house, showing off a gilt mirror in the bathroom that arrived at Lucy's Place as a very odd shade of green.
Kern was most proud of the spacious bathroom, since workers took extra care in picking out the ceramic tile.
Even a tired refrigerator looked almost new with a coat of spruce paint.
The bedroom has bunk beds, single beds, a crib and a playpen. The shelter also has an office, kitchen, bedroom for the shelter manager, and a small porch. In a pinch, another client can sleep on the office couch.
The next construction phase — when funding becomes available — will add another floor to further expand the shelter's capacity to six bedrooms.
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.
The funding for this phase of the construction came through $300,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds. The Safety Zone is in line for another $75,000 in block grant money for the expansion.
The Safety Zone invited the public to see its new shelter, which will begin accepting guests Sunday evening. (See "Safety Zone shelter open house set for Sunday".)
"Advocacy is a very important issue," Police Officer Bridget Conow said.
All of the dozens of people who came to celebrate the shelter's opening with Kern and Safety Zone's volunteers understood why the shelter is necessary.
Sen. Roosevelt David said that on his way across Pillsbury Sound, he heard a radio program from Tortola talking about domestic violence. The woman said she had no place to go and she was afraid her husband would kill her.
"There's lots of domestic violence here, but a lot of it is closeted," he said, taking a tour around the shelter.
The Safety Zone has a coterie of youthful volunteers, including Terrence Bartley, 17, of St. Thomas. While enjoying a plateful of snacks donated by community businesses, he said that he taught youths ages 7 to 16 how to solve problems without resorting to violence.
"And the world is getting worse every day," he said, referring to the need for his work.
While several of the people at the open house heaped accolades on Kern for her hard work, her husband, Bill Needham, didn't get much mention. But when the volunteer painters failed to show, Needham was pressed into service, as he has been many times before, to put the final coats of paint on the walls.
"It was down to the wire," he said.
For more information about the shelter and The Safety Zone's work with victims of domestic violence, call 693-7233.
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