SafePlace will be bigger, better at new location

About 15 people Sunday were busy removing wires, staples and drywall at the future home of SafePlace, the longtime Olympia nonprofit that helps victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse.

The new location is just down the street from its current home on Legion Way, but it’s a world apart in terms of size.

Once demolition and renovations are complete, the organization expects to occupy the nearly 9,500-square-foot building at 521 E. Legion Way at the end of November or early part of December, Executive Director Mary Pontarolo said.

That’s quite a bit different from its current home at 314 Legion Way SE which measures 2,300 square feet.

The organization is growing because SafePlace needs more room to improve its services, not because it is overwhelmed with domestic violence and sexual abuse cases — Pontarolo called the number of those cases typical for this size community.

More room means space for individual intake rooms, childcare activities, support groups and educational classes and workshops, Pontarolo said.

“We want to engage the community,” she said, adding that more engagement with the community will help raise awareness about domestic violence and sexual abuse.

The new location also will be home to the administrative staff, the 24-hour emergency crisis line and 24-hour response to sexual assault.

About 17 people will work out of the new location, while another 10-12 will remain at the undisclosed location of the program’s domestic violence shelter in Olympia, she said. The organization also has 40-50 volunteers.

The total budget to renovate the new space is about $2.15 million, which includes the cost to acquire the building, and takes into account revenue generated by the sale of the former SafePlace location. The old location and corner lot are for sale, Pontarolo said.

SafePlace also has received money from the Washington State Building Communities Fund, private donations, a South Sound bank loan and Thurston County, but still needs to raise $500,000, according to information shared by the organization.

Sunday was the second demolition work party for SafePlace. A groundbreaking ceremony is set for Sept. 5, followed by a painting party on Sept. 26 and another work party on Sept. 28.

If you feel you have been a victim of domestic violence, the number to call is 360-754-6300.