Crisis Center staff members broke ground for the new shelter in a ceremony held Thursday in Durant.
According to Norita Walker, executive director of the Crisis Center, who has been there since its inception in 1988, construction on the new shelter could begin soon. Once it begins, construction could last 120 days, weather permitting.
The “safe house” has been funded through various sources, including a $173,000 USDA Rural Development community grant, $10,000 in private donations, $50,000 from the state of Oklahoma and many other donations. Also, the city of Durant donated land for the building.
Prior to the groundbreaking, Crisis Center volunteers have been preparing the site and getting utilities in place.
However, Walker said the grants only cover the construction of the building, not furnishings, and in the past these have been donated.
Walker said she hopes to be in the new shelter by the beginning of the year so the the Crisis Center can better serve community members in need of a safe haven.
Doris Campbell, chairman of the Crisis Center board, said the shelter, which serves women and children who are victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault, has been housed in its current location for 15 years.
Walker said the shelter currently has 18 beds, and the center serves more than 600 people every year.
Campbell said a new “safe house” is needed because the current building isn’t up to fire code and the necessary renovations, which amount to $300,000 or more, are not cost feasible. Instead, the board sought funding for a new shelter.
In addition to working on a new safe haven, the Crisis Center is preparing for the “Take Back the Night” march, which will be held at 6:30 p.m. Monday in the Student Union plaza at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. A candlelight vigil ceremony will be held at 7 p.m. in the Student Union atrium following the march.
As part of the vigil, red silhouettes will be placed outside the Student Union from 6-8 p.m., representing those who have lost their lives to domestic violence.
This event is being held as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Durant Mayor Jerry Tomlinson signed a proclamation in the city council chambers Monday declaring October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
For more information about the domestic violence march and vigil, call the SE office of violence prevention at 745-3102 or the Crisis Control Center at 924-3056.