In operation for 35 years, The Shelter of Gaston County celebrates the many changes that have helped to mold our history. The first shelter opened on April 4, 1982 after a group of concerned citizens mobilized to create a refuge for battered women and their children here in Gaston County. The facility was called the Battered Spouse Shelter. For thirteen years, domestic violence victims used our services. It became apparent in the early 1990’s that the facility needed extra bed space and was not handicap accessible. Many residents used this two-story, three bedroom, one bath house and found support through the Social Worker and Relief Shelter Operators.
In 1995, we were able to construct and move into a new 4,013 square feet facility built in a confidential location. This project was made possible through the gracious support of the Gaston County Board of Commissioners, by which Gaston County contributed $150,000 and other generous Shelter donors who helped The Shelter raise another $150,000. With this move to a new location, our name was then changed to The Shelter of Gaston County, a Battered Women’s Residence and Resource Center. During these years, our staff continued to slowly grow and delivery of more specific services began.
In 2011, construction began and was completed in 2012 with the renovation of the existing shelter and the expansion, which is comprised of two client bedrooms, a teen playroom, a support/meeting room, additional office space for increased staff, a client bathroom, a laundry room, and a staff bedroom. With the updated changes, we have been able to improve the safety, accessibility, and functionality of our new facility. Now with this addition, The Shelter of Gaston County has 5,700 square feet of trauma-sensitive environment for our residents, with safe sanctuaries where they can begin their healing process from all that they have endured.
Through a capital campaign with so many special friends and donors of The Shelter including private contributions, cookbook sales, events, foundations, businesses, groups and others, over $575,000 was raised for the 2011 renovation and expansion project. In essence, this growth and support represented a circle of special friends, volunteers, men, women and children uniting together and sharing a huge responsibility. The outcome has truly been incredible. While our statistical numbers continue to increase, so does the number of lives changed forever. The Shelter has not been empty in fourteen years and not a single day goes by that we do not receive a domestic violence call for assistance or someone requesting information.
All these years, we have operated under the division of Gaston County Department of Health & Human Services and we have worked tirelessly to make a difference in the lives of battered women and their children who are struggling to leave violence and turmoil and to renew their lives free of danger. Not only is it important to provide a shelter for our community, but it is also vital to increase public awareness, to build partnerships, to advocate for those voices unheard and to continue communicating the seriousness of this epidemic affecting men, women and children.
We offer a wide variety of services to the community including a 24- hour crisis line, emergency shelter, court advocacy, information and referral, linkage to community resources, bilingual services, safety assessment and planning, support groups ( on and offsite) free training for health and human service professionals in our community and assistance in filing victim compensation paperwork. Within The Shelter, we offer our residents all of the above services as well as counseling, parenting classes, temporary child care, and assistance with transportation, health classes and individual services provided by Case Managers.
Daily we see Gaston County single women and women with children who have been abused by an intimate partner. These families enter our doors sometimes with fear and uncertainty. We feel it is imperative to make the facility acceptable and the surroundings serene. Since both in-kind and monetary donations play such an important role, we depend upon the community for help with these essential needs. There is always a Shelter Wish List available posted on our website www.TheShelterofGastonCounty.com on Facebook or at The Shelter by calling 704-852-6047 or 704-810-6492. You can also make a difference by using your talents and gifts to make their stay with us a positive and memorable one. Whether you prepare an evening meal, teach a class, sponsor an event, host a fundraiser, attend an event or purchase gift cards for special needs, all of your efforts are greatly appreciated.
Our hats are off to each of you for remembering victims of domestic violence and their children. Their hopes are to have normalcy in their lives, to find peaceful paths, to receive services and assistance, and to feel safe and secure in their own homes.
My staff and I have been enriched by the love and genuine concern our donors show our residents. It is through their gracious support that we can in return provide the assistance needed to touch, challenge, and inspire others to walk the journey without violence and harm.
Please check our Shelter Timeline from 1982 until the present for the many accomplishments made by so many over our 35 years in service to the community.