October 25, 2014

Elyria
Mostly cloudy
51°F
test

Day of caring helps transform women’s shelter

LORAIN – Women struggling to beat the demons of drug or alcohol addiction barely have time – or in some cases the skills – to care for their babies or young children.

But a weeks-long “extreme makeover” at The Key women’s shelter should offer a cozy space and quiet place for recovering mothers to develop closer ties with their children.

The fresh smell and glossy new paint were the first signs that the new Mother and Child Room soon will be ready to welcome moms and kids to read and play games together, according to Helen Rodriquez, associate director of the women’s shelter operated by Lorain County Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services.

“Many of these women have never had anyone to show them how to bond with their children,” she said. “Sometimes they have to be taught these things.”

Brian Frederick, president and chief executive officer of the Community Foundation, was one of the volunteers who helped make the new room a reality. Members of the North Coast Building Industries Association Remodelers Council helped, too, giving their time to tear out old sinks and fixtures and install shelving.

The new space was created out of a small storage room. Key staffers will counsel moms after monitoring interaction between them and their kids up to age 5 via a two-way window. That window is being cut into a smaller, adjacent room that used to be a hairdressing station when the building served as a nursing home.

A project that would have ordinarily cost several thousand dollars ended up costing only a few thousand, thanks to the time volunteers donated, said Beth Maiden, communications officer for the Community Foundation of Lorain County.

“It doesn’t take a lot of money if you have the people to do it.”

Finishing touches including window-washing were done during Friday’s annual United Way Day of Caring, which highlighted an estimated two dozen projects, according to Cheryl McKenna, chief financial officer for the Community Foundation.

One project saw Nordson Corp. personnel teaching computer skills to a number of women living at The Key, which serves dozens of women a year with residential and out-patient drug and alcohol addiction recovery programs, according to Rodriquez.

A $1.2 million, three-year federal grant will pay the salaries of the child and family coordinators, clinicians and program evaluators who will work with recovering mothers.

Stocked with donations of new children’s books, games, toys and furniture including glider rockers, the room will also feature a mural painted by local artist Chris Survance, themed to Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree.”

The 1964 book explores the lifelong relationship between a boy and a tree that literally gives of itself throughout his life. As the child grows, his demands grow, and the tree never refuses as it only wants to make the boy happy.

In the same vein, workers at the shelter hope the room will continue to give moms what they need for years to come.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.