Eye on KELOLAND: More space to provide safety and support

Eye on KELOLAND

MADISON, S.D. (KELO) — It’s a big month for a KELOLAND non-profit that offers support to victims of domestic violence.

Back in the the summer of 2017, we did a story with the Domestic Violence Network in Madison when it was raising money for a new shelter.

That vision is now a reality.

The Domestic Violence Network is getting ready to move into its brand new shelter.

The facility the organization has been renting for the past several years has room for two families, plus an additional person in an overflow room.

The new space, which is two governor’s homes connected by a garage, will be able to accommodate more people.

“This building will house three families very comfortably and then we have the option that we have full basements and if we have an overflow issue, we can utilize that. In time, we hope to finish those basements and the capability of maybe housing up to five families,” Domestic Violence Network Executive Director Christy VanDeWetering said.

A fresh, new look can help clients.

“Keeping things very simple and clean and organized really helps them relax and figure out what they need to do next and how we can help them get to that goal and then move forward,” VanDeWetering said.

A bigger shelter will also benefit staff and volunteers.

“Our office space in the last building was extremely small; they were working on top of each other. Just to have separate office space for them to be able to do their jobs and to do it well I think is going to be huge. We’re going to be able to do so many bigger and better things,” Domestic Violence Network Board of Directors Treasurer Megan Rummel said.

The new space only takes up about half the lot, which means there is room to expand in the future.

The price tag on the project is just under $300,000.

Domestic Violence Network Executive Director Christy VanDeWetering says this wouldn’t have been possible without the community’s support.

“We had donations anywhere from $1 or $2 to organizations that gave us $1,500, so all of those bits and pieces really made a huge difference. We have a ways to go yet, but we’re going to get there,” VanDeWetering said.

But for now, the organization is looking forward to continuing its critical work in a new shelter.

“I just know that there’s more people out there than we realize that are in domestic violence situations and need the services and if it’s not available and it’s not talked about they aren’t aware of where they can go for help,” Rummel said.

“As a society, we’re only as strong as our weakest link, and if we’re not providing services to those that are vulnerable or need help, where are we at as a whole? We need to take time and support those that are struggling. And we’re not going to fix everything, but if we can help someone move just a tiny step forward that they’re a little more safe, feel like they have some support from someone in the community, that’s why this is important,” VanDeWetering said.

There’s still some work to be done, but the organization hopes to be settled into the new space by the end of the month.

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