Officials with a nonprofit group working to bring a domestic-violence shelter to Delaware County won't let a senseless act of vandalism get in their way.
A contractor visiting the site of the future Turning Point shelter on North Liberty Street in Delaware contacted the Delaware Police Department after discovering the damage about noon Thanksgiving Day. Police Capt. Adam Moore said investigators determined someone gained access to the site by breaking a window and proceeded to smash more than 20 additional windows, some of which were awaiting installation.
Paula Roller, executive director for Turning Point, said the $6,000 in damages, which she described as a "bump in the road," will not halt the $3.2 million project. She said the flood of calls and emails following the incident heartened officials at the Marion-based nonprofit, which had raised about $2 million for the project by the end of November.
"I think it's been in some ways a blessing, because it has raised awareness (about the project)," she said.
Turning Point last year launched a campaign to raise enough funds to revamp the long-vacant former site of the Children's Home of Delaware to house people fleeing abusive relationships. According to the group, Delaware County is the most-populous county in the state without such a shelter.
Roller said workers will install security cameras at the site ahead of schedule in reaction to the incident. She said a security gate will be in place ahead of the shelter's opening, which could occur in late spring.
"The best way we can prevent (further vandalism) is to get us in there and get it up and running," she said. "Empty buildings are a target."
Moore said the department will increase patrols in the area, although he added there is no reason to think the vandalism was anything but random. He said department officials were saddened by the incident.
"It really hits hard when it's a project being funded by donations to help other people," he said.
The department, along with the Delaware County Sheriff's Office, Powell Police Department and other county law-enforcement agencies, have partnered to support Turning Point's campaign.
Sheriff Russell Martin previously said the construction of a shelter in the county is "long overdue."
Roller said the vandalism led to a wave of outreach from Turning Point's partners in Delaware County and beyond.
"The community's been extremely supportive," she said. "We have had a lot of calls and emails."
Roller said Turning Point already has hired two staff members to oversee operations at the new shelter. She said the group anticipates hiring at least one more full-time employee and a dozen or more part-time employees to staff the site.
For more information about Turning Point and its campaign, visit turningpoint6.org.