For SafePlace, it’s all about that space.
The longtime service provider for domestic violence and sexual assault victims is moving into a new home this week.
Located at 521 Legion Way SE in downtown Olympia, the new SafePlace headquarters has 9,480 square feet — and is more than three times bigger than the cramped facilities a couple of blocks away.
“You can’t really engage the community unless you’ve got space to do it,” said Mary Pontarolo, executive director.
The non-profit organization helps thousands of Thurston County women every year. Since 1991, SafePlace’s operations had been based in a 108-year-old house at 314 Legion Way. That house is now for sale.
Moving forward, SafePlace will no longer need to book off-site meeting rooms — and can finally host most services under one roof. This includes support groups and legal clinics for families as well as educational programs that teach about healthy relationships, for example. The new site features ample space for victim advocacy and even childcare.
“We hate to leave it, but it’s too small for us,” Pontarolo said of the old house, which was so crowded that some consultations were held in a bathroom for privacy. “I give the staff credit for being able to get along in such tight quarters.”
SafePlace will host a public celebration this summer for the new site, which still has a few finishing touches ahead, such as landscaping. The organization needs to raise about $220,000 to finish the project, which has a total price tag of about $2.1 million, Pontarolo said.
SafePlace depends on local donations to stay afloat, and Tuesday’s moving job was no different. To help with the heavy lifting, Morgan Transfer Inc. supplied a crew of six, who worked at cost.
“We just wanted to help out,” said Teresa Johnson of Morgan Transfer, noting how much the crew had accomplished before lunchtime. “Apparently we’re going pretty fast.”
Founded in 1976, SafePlace averages about 4,500 crisis calls every year, Pontarolo said. SafePlace operates a 24-hour crisis hotline and also has a 28-bed domestic violence shelter at a confidential location. The organization has 34 employees and more than 40 volunteers.