Delaware County remains Ohio's most populated county without a shelter for victims of domestic violence -- but not for long.

Turning Point plans to open the county's first shelter in the fall.

Work to prepare for its opening at 500 N. Liberty St. includes a continuing fund drive conducted by Turning Point, the Marion-based nonprofit that aids domestic-violence victims in six counties, including Delaware.

The shelter will be at the site of the former Children's Home of Delaware. Turning Point Development Coordinator Stephanie Rowe said the cost of renovation and preparing the facility is $3.2 million.

Turning Point Executive Director Paula Roller said slightly more than $2.5 million has been pledged to the fund drive.

"Obviously, we're still continuing our campaign and have entered the public phase," she said. That phase includes mailings, advertisements and social-media activity, she added.

The renovations are expected to be finished in July, Roller said.

The next steps will include cleaning and stocking the facility, and hiring and training staff.

Roller said full-time residential and children's coordinators have been hired. Other personnel will be in charge of maintenance and making sure clients have what they need.

Also to be hired are 12 to 15 part-time aides, who will be at the shelter 24/7 in shifts, Roller said. At any given time, she said, at least two aides will be at the shelter. Among other duties, they will man crisis phone lines, she said.

"This will be our biggest hiring and we'll have to train everyone," Roller said.

When the facility starts sheltering clients in September, the goal will be not only to protect them, but also to help them achieve independence, Roller said.

Even animals are not safe from domestic violence, Roller said.

"The average life expectancy for pets in a home with domestic violence is 18 months," she said. That's why the shelter will have a kennel and the ability to accommodate dogs and cats.

Security will be a priority at the shelter, Roller said. It will be locked down with entry accessible only when monitored by aides.

The facility will sit on a 7.5-acre gated site. All doors and windows will have alarms, and about 23 cameras outside the building will monitor the grounds.

While "we won't have a big neon sign .... we're not hiding our address," Roller said, adding it's unrealistic to think people won't know where the shelter is.

Turning Point, in fact, will hold an open house in the fall so the public can see how their donations have been used, she said.

Delaware County has the largest population in Turning Point's service area, she said, but is served by the organization's shelter in Marion County, which will continue to operate. It's estimated the new shelter will serve about 140 adults and 160 children annually.

The building will have 13 bedrooms, each capable of holding four people, for a capacity of 52 at any given time. People will move in and out of the shelter depending on their needs, Roller said.

Those needs can include time to earn money and gain independence, to attend or complete school, or for legal issues to be resolved.

Three bedrooms will be transitional units in which people can stay for a year.

"There are a multitude of reasons why someone would have to be there for a year," Roller said.

The shelter also will provide legal help and counseling, she said, as well as help its residents develop goals and a safety plan and to find jobs and housing.

Roller made it clear that the shelter is open to all.

"We serve men and women," she said. "We help the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. We help the disabled -- anyone affected by domestic violence."

All services will be free to shelter residents.

Turning Point provides all food, plus clothing and personal items.

Turning Point is a nonprofit organization and donations to it are tax-deductible.

Roller said in addition to the more than $2.5 million donated to the fund drive, Turning Point has received in-kind donations and cash.

"We're very happy with that," she said.

For more information, visit turningpoint6.org.

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