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New Domestic Violence Shelter Opens

The shelter increases the county's capacity for families affected by domestic violence by 15 percent.

As supporters of a local domestic violence prevention organization gathered Thursday morning, Orange County families were waking up the newly-constructed shelter the group had met to celebrate.

Laura’s House, an organization that provides local shelter services and counseling to women and families impacted by domestic violence and abuse, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday to mark the grand opening of its new emergency shelter.

The project has been years in the planning, said Margaret Bayston, CEO and executive director of Laura’s House. 

"To be the biggest shelter in the county ... all the hard work was worth it," she said Thursday. "Now it's up to us to help those families."

On Wednesday, the first occupants moved into the new shelter, which is in an undisclosed location to protect those who live there. The shelter project increases the organization’s capacity from 28 beds to 44 beds and 10 cribs, expanding its room by 93 percent—and capacity countywide by 15 percent.

The nonprofit arm of the Building Industry Association of Orange County, HomeAid Orange County, partnered with Laura’s House in the construction of the shelter.

Local construction experts led the building effort, spearheaded by Laguna Niguel man Rick Lutzky.

Lutzky said that the project inspired some contractors to donate their materials and services free of charge after hearing about the Laura's House mission to help those impacted by domestic violence.

, marking the milestone with a similar event at the Lake Forest secondhand shop.

The new building is part of the organization’s Cornerstone Capital Campaign, launched in September 2010. The goals of the campaign include raising $4.5 million to fund the new emergency shelter and the expansion of the Laura’s House Step Ahead transitional housing program for shelter graduates.

So far, the campaign has raised about $3.8 million, announced Wayne Pinnell, a longtime Laura's House board member, at the Thursday morning event.

Pinnell, who joined the board again in 2004 after a hiatus, said that expanding the organization's capacity has been a goal of his since the 1990s. 

The final phase of fundraising will begin in January; those funds will go toward the purchase of the building that will be the home of the transitional housing program.

Also on Thursday, the secondhand store known as Portobello Road Resale Boutique renamed itself Laura's House Resale Store.

"By changing our name, we believe that the Laura's House connection to our store will be more visible to our patrons," explained Paolo Scarfo, store general manager.

For more information on the programs and services offered by Laura’s House, visit the nonprofit's recently-redesigned website at laurashouse.org.

Dwayne Boring December 02, 2011 at 07:51 PM
This is all well and good, but who takes care of the MALE victims of domestic violence? Where are the shelters for them? Virtually all sociological data shows women initiate domestic violence as often as men, that women use weapons more than men, and that 38% of injured victims are men. http://divorcesupport.about.com/od/abusiverelationships/a/male_abuse.htm It's time to talk about the other side of this issue as well.
Sarah de Crescenzo December 02, 2011 at 10:57 PM
Peacekeeper, according to the Domestic Violence Resource Center (dvrc-or.org), data from 2003 (the most recent cited) showed that "women accounted for 85% of the victims of intimate partner violence, men for approximately 15%." I've never read any studies concluding that men are victimized in domestic violence situations at the same rate as women. Could you point me to the source of that information?
Skylar Johnson March 02, 2012 at 04:05 AM
From the looks of these pictures this shelter looks very nice.But.... When you call and speak with a employee, they make it very uncomfortable and they are very clear that they are racist.Just so you know they do not accept black people,mexicans that have even the slighest accents( and if you are mexican and if you do get by on the phone and then to the shelter.. do not count on being there long.Maybe a night...Maybe.) But they will watch you like a hawk.They scare people with a criminal check, which I can understand but.For people who DO NOT have any criminal history, you are made to feel that you do not need any kind of assistance from them.Ofcourse this depends on their moods for that day.And if they can get any kind of government money from you.Their presentation is ofcourse ORANGE COUNTY Classy.Their employees,are third world county class. ( which means not at all.)

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