Delaware County's first-ever shelter for domestic-violence victims is scheduled to open Monday, Feb. 18.
Turning Point -- a Marion-based nonprofit organization that aids victims of domestic violence in six counties, including Delaware -- for years has been raising funds for and constructing the 13,000-square-foot shelter at 500 N. Liberty St., the site of the former Children's Home of Delaware.
The shelter has faced a few hurdles, including a 2017 incident in which someone broke more than 20 windows at the site, causing $6,000 in damages.
But now that the shelter is ready to open, "It's more beautiful than I imagined," said Turning Point Executive Director Paula Roller.
"There's a lot of gratitude, relief and excitement. ... There have been so many people -- volunteers, donors and supporters. ... The Delaware community made it happen. I'm proud they worked with our agency to make it happen.
"I hope they're happy with the way it turned out and the way it looks," she said.
"We can start using it right away," said Stephanie Rowe, Turning Point's development coordinator.
"It's been an incredible journey," she said. "The capital campaign worked with incredible people in Delaware County and surrounding communities. I've met so many people supportive of the project from beginning to end and continue to do so. It's really been a community effort. I've been very honored to be a part of it and to know we are saving lives for generations to come."
Delaware County Sheriff Russell Martin previously said the facility was "long overdue." The county previously was the most populous Ohio county lacking a shelter for domestic-violence victims, according to Turning Point.
Rowe said the cost of renovating the facility was $3.2 million, raised via the organization's capital campaign, which began in 2016.
Shelter Director Kathy King is one of four full-time employees at the shelter.
The shelter also has 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.
Security is a priority at the shelter, Roller said.
The facility sits on a 7.5-acre gated site. It is locked down with entry accessible only when monitored by aides. All doors and windows have alarms, and about 23 cameras outside the building monitor the grounds.
Roller said the shelter is open to any victim of domestic violence.
"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 are free to shelter residents. Turning Point provides all food, plus clothing and personal items.
King said the shelter's goal is to provide protection for domestic-violence victims and to help them achieve independence.
Roller said the shelter will help its residents obtain legal help and counseling. It also will help them develop goals and a safety plan, and find jobs and housing.
Lengths of stay at the shelter will vary, King said, but stays of up to a year are possible.
She said the shelter will house not only adults, but also their children, dogs and cats. The shelter has a cat room and a kennel that can hold three dogs, both in a building separate from the residences.
Pets also need protection, King said, because their life spans average only 18 months in homes with domestic violence.
The shelter can house up to 41 people, she said, and possibly more.
"If they come, we can find a way," King said.
During times of low occupancy, residents will have private rooms, she said. Most rooms have two sets of bunk beds, and one room is ADA-compliant, she said. Rooms can be reconfigured to meet clients' needs and will have televisions.
The shelter is a group living environment, King said. Residents share a kitchen, living room and dining room.
The shelter also has recreation and study areas for children, she said, plus an outdoor play area and a fenced basketball court. The residences are in two buildings built for the children's home, which have been remodeled and connected by a new walkway, King said.
Turning Point's existing Marion County shelter has shown some residents will arrive with nothing but the clothes they're wearing, she said. Storage space is available in a separate building for those who bring more, and the site has room for those who arrive with a car, she said.
Turning Point is a nonprofit organization and donations to it are tax-deductible.
For more information, visit turningpoint6.org.