YWCA Residents Prepare for Renovation Project
In less than five months, the residents at Helena's YWCA will be moved to temporary housing, while the shelter's current building is renovated.
The goal of the project is to not only preserve a historic building, but also improve the living conditions for a place many women call home.
For 94 years, homeless women in the community have found food, shelter and guidance at Helena's YWCA. But with plumbing, electric and structural work dating back to 1918, the historic building is due for a makeover.
YWCA employee Kate McCombs says, "It just feels like we're doing band-aids right now instead of being able to offer an exciting, beautiful new space for people who are starting a new, new phase in their life."
The project will include installing an elevator, and making the entire building ADA accessible. It will also expand current rooms, to provide more space for women and their children. But most importantly, the renovation will expand the kitchen.
Carole Solomon a resident at the YWCA says, "There are woman who love to cook but can't because they feel uncomfortable, they feel like they're butting someone out of the way."
Executive Director Kellie Goodwin McBride says the YWCA’s board has made a conscious effort to not only improve the current living conditions, but also to maintain the building's historic character.
"We will have the same historic look and same historic feel. You are going to drive by the YWCA and think 'Oh, there's that great historic building.'"
Employees say the one downside to the renovation is having is to temporarily move residents who are already struggling to find stability.
McCombs: "We're still going to provide case management, we are still going to be connecting people to resources. It will be the same services, just different locations."
But when the project is complete, residents say they will have an even better place to call home.
Solomon: "It will make us feel safer, more comfortable, more at ease."
Story by Jill Jagelski, Beartooth NBC.
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