MEDINA, Ohio — The only battered women’s shelter in Medina County is finally reopening its doors after being closed for over 3 years. And for the first time, the shelter is sharing its location with the public to reach more families in need.
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Michael Ubienski is getting quite a few new neighbors next week. He lives feet away from the newly renovated Hope and Healing Battered Women’s Shelter of Medina.
“I don’t have an issue with it,” Ubienski said. “I think it’s a good thing, especially since they renovated it up, and you know everyone needs somewhere to go.”
Ubieskni moved next to the shelter 5 years ago, and most of the time, it’s been closed. It shut down in 2020 since the older building couldn’t accommodate social distancing during the pandemic.
“I would see a few of the ladies out and in pairs and stuff, so they’re together and being safe, but yeah, not real busy,” Ubienski said.
To help service more families, Hope and Healing decided to use the closure to renovate and expand. New 5 has been following that journey, which is now complete over 3 years later.
“It feels amazing,” said Teresa Stafford, CEO of Hope and Healing Survivor Resource Center. “It feels we are in a position to better serve survivors in this community and welcome them in here to a safe and warm welcoming space.”
Stafford said the decision to close was not easy, and despite some bumps in the road due to supply chain issues, she said opening next week is critical.
“I know the community has been waiting for us to open back up,” Stafford said. “Unfortunately, some survivors in the community didn’t feel comfortable moving to our Summit Country shelter, and they stayed within their abusive situation.”
For the first time, Hope and Healing is sharing the address of this shelter. That’s so victims are aware it is safe for them to show up at this front door if they are in desperate need of services but also to let neighbors know who live here.
“We want to make it easy for survivors to access our services,” Stafford said. “At our shelter in Summit County, we have survivors that walk up to our door and if they didn’t know where that address was or the location of that building, they may have never sought out services.”
Stafford is confident the surrounding community will help keep a watchful eye on the shelter.
“When you’re out and about, just keep an eye on things, but they do have cameras now everywhere, too, so that helps,” Ubienski said. “It’s a good thing for them to get it going again. It’s a good fresh start for people.”
This updated shelter will house double the original capacity, which will now serve 10 to 15 families at a time.
“Once we open up in mid-September, we are pretty sure this place is going to be unfortunately filled, which is a sad thing but at the same time a great opportunity for us to work with people to remove themselves from these dangerous situations,” Stafford said.
The shelter overall is just a more homey feeling. Residents will have 24/7 access to the kitchen, various supplies and common room areas. Even little details in the lighting and color of the walls are meant to make victims feel calm and, above all, safe.
“The building needed a little love, and so with that love is just to help the community as a whole to beautify the community and to get that sense of community back,” Stafford said.
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