Catholic Social Services to open new women's shelter in March
Story by Kate Veik, NewsNetNebraska
The Rev. Christopher Kubat is actually disappointed that he has to discuss his charity’s newest project – a women’s shelter in Lincoln.
“Even the fact that we are talking about this is sad,” said Kubat, director of Catholic Social Services of Southern Nebraska. “Domestic violence shouldn’t be an issue.”
CSS, founded in 1932 in response to the Great Depression, offers social and counseling services for people in Nebraska. And its new shelter, the St. Gianna Women’s Homes, will be an expansion of its outreach. The apartment-style building, with 24 units, is expected to open in March 2011.
While St. Gianna Women’s Homes is a new project for CSS, but it addresses an age-old issue. CSS has been reaching out to women and children facing domestic abuse for decades, Kubat said, and Lincoln continues to see an increase in domestic abuse cases.
“There’s just not enough space,” he said. “We could be building a structure 10 times larger.”
Residents at St. Gianna Women’s Homes will be invited to stay in the facility as long as needed. Three Marian nuns will live at the shelter and serve as counselors for the women and children.
Amy Evans, executive director of the Friendship Home, which also serves domestic violence victims, said another shelter is needed in Lincoln. Friendship Home has 50 emergency beds and offers a transitional program to help victims become self-sufficient.
“We are always running at capacity,” Evans said. “There are not enough resources to meet the needs of battered women who are seeking safety.”
The needs of women who go to CSS for shelter are different from the needs of women who go to the Friendship Home, Evans noted. CSS provides long-term service while the Friendship Home focuses on emergency situations.
CSS also provides alternative housing for victims, in addition to job counseling, a grant system for uninsured or under insured and emergency services to help cover rent or food costs for previously helped victims.
The charity people in Lincoln have shown toward St. Gianna Women’s Homes is amazing, Kubat said. CSS has received donations of quilts for the bedrooms, clothing for future residents and dishes and appliances for the kitchen. Victims of domestic violence who have been helped by CSS are among those making donations, he said.
People also have contributed money to help finance the shelter, he said. And a woman who loves to garden has volunteered to help start a garden at the shelter.
Building the shelter will cost $3 million, Kubat said, with annual operating costs estimated at between $200,000 and $300,000.
CSS is raising money for the shelter with fish fries, held at CSS headquarters the first Friday of every month.
“We don’t want to interfere with parish fish fries during Lent,” Kubat said.
The location of the shelter will remain a secret. In addition, the shelter will feature state-of-the-art security to help prevent dangerous situations.
St. Gianna Berretta Molla, the namesake for the shelter, was an Italian mother who was diagnosed with an uterine tumor. Because removal of the tumor would risk the life of the child she was carrying, she chose to give birth rather than have surgery. Molla died after childbirth in 1962. She was canonized a saint in May 2004 by Pope John Paul II.
“She’s a wonderful patron saint for our project,” Kubat said.