AEDV waits for permit to begin building shelter

Advocates to End Domestic Violence is waiting to obtain a permit to begin the groundbreaking on its new shelter for sexual and domestic violence survivors.

Advocates to End Domestic Violence is waiting to obtain a permit to begin the groundbreaking on its new shelter for sexual and domestic violence survivors.

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The clock won’t tick fast enough to obtaining the permit and breaking ground for the new Advocates to End Domestic Violence shelter for sexual and domestic violence survivors.

Executive director Lisa Lee had hoped to have the paper in her hands back in March.

“We were sure it was going to be March, then we said it’s definitely going to be the middle of April, then by May 1, we were hopeful,” she said. “We became hopeful within the next two months, we’d get to be moving dirt.”

AEDV, which was established in 1981, has become a full-fledged program operating 51 beds assisting battered victims and their children in the community. Its largest fundraiser of the year, Taste of Downtown, is approaching its 30th anniversary on June 17, with revenues from the region’s restaurants and shops benefiting the shelter that Lee hopes will become a sanctuary for the people it serves.

AEDV long has been waiting for its new home for its crisis intervention services to the region’s most vulnerable after they’ve experienced difficult physical and mental circumstances.

Lee likens the anticipation and many of the procedural delays to being in the final weeks of pregnancy.

“It seems like that last eight-and-a-half months — is this baby coming? You’ll catch me complaining, and then you have the baby and then you say, ‘It was easy,’ ” she said.

But thanks to the generosity of kind donors during the past 30 years, she said, AEDV always has been able to put aside a portion of the funds through Taste for the new building, which will help to meet an increased demand for a new type of victims the nonprofit has had in recent months.

“AEDV, it isn’t a warm and fuzzy (type of service),” she said. “You have victims come in the middle of the night. Sometimes your choice is between a noose and a guillotine, and it isn’t much of a choice. No one has ever said in a yearbook, ‘Most likely to end up in a shelter.’

“In the last two years, three years, I’ve had more people in the shelter with bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and I’ve never had that before and I don’t know why.”

In designing the building itself, Lee says she’s already driven the architects for the project “just crazy” because AEDV has been choosing colors and specifications to make it a haven for survivors. The architects also have been educating her on the need to build the facility with a solar electric system now instead of converting it later.

“They said it’s easier to do it now than down the line, and once I accepted that we were doing to do solar, I really felt sorry for the design team,” she said. “I thought, well, maybe the world is going to change.”

Overall, she said it will be important to maintain unity in the shelter and has wanted to make sure no one will be overwhelmed with too many rooms where they will feel stressed in their living environment. It will be handicap-accessible, energy-efficient and accommodating, although not maintenance-free, she said.

Lee said even though victims stay temporarily in the home, bedrooms, restrooms and the kitchen should be created so everyone feels welcome and comfortable at all times and not coming in thinking it’s a barracks with old beds. Lee said before they even have clients stay, she’ll have a night for staff to sleep in the shelter so they understand the experience.

“We’re doing it where the ceilings are high,” she said. “I really want it to be a calming sanctuary.”

One of the more expensive components to the design — and which Lee refuses to compromise on — will be making sure the new building provides plenty of windows to draw in a calming, sunny atmosphere.

“I want it to be something you’re proud to be in, and I want it to inspire you and to maintain that same lifestyle when you leave that shelter,” she said. “And it shouldn’t be a shelter. It should be a home, even if it’s temporary.”

This year, the event will feature 34 vendors and three bands for those interested in attending the event on June 17.

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