Illustration courtesy of Women's Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh
Architectural illustration of the new facility
Last year, the the Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh
operated at an average of 112 percent capacity, serving over 6,000 women and children by providing services such as a safe place to stay, counselling, support groups and legal assistance. But unfortunately, the center, in great need of an expansion, had to refer hundreds of people in need to other resources when it didn’t have the space to accommodate them.
This week, the center launched #LastMillion, the final phase in its ongoing major capital campaign, Shelter From the Storm, to raise $12 million to build an expanded facility. So far, Shelter From the Storm has raised nearly 11 million dollars with the support of foundations, individuals, corporations, organizations and government funding. Now the center is reaching out to the greater Pittsburgh community to raise the last million it needs to complete construction.
Renovations will allow the center to expand residential capacity, increasing the number of beds from 36 to 47, as well as non-residential spaces like the children’s programs area. The new building will also feature a pet facility, which will allow women fleeing intimate-partner violence in their homes, to bring along the animals they love.
However, the campaign is about more than enlarging the facilities. “I want you to know that this new shelter isn’t just about expanding capacity, but that the space is absolutely beautiful,” Michelle Figlar, said at a June 6 press conference. Figlar is vice president for learning and program director of children, youth and families for The Heinz Endowments, one of the biggest funders of the project. “All of the paint colors and the choices and the open space—it’s very intentional," shew said. "There’s nothing here that wasn’t thought through.”
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald indicated at the press conference that supporting the center is a priority to local government. “When the mayor and I [went] to Harrisburg with our list of projects, this was one that was right at the top of our list,” Fitzgerald said. Thirty-three percent of the money already raised has come from government programs such as the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program and New Market Tax Credits.
Now the center is counting on the public for support in their #LastMillion campaign. People who wish to donate can visit lastmillion.org
and use #LastMillion on social media to spread the word and follow along with the effort.
“In fundraising, they always say that the last million is the most difficult, but I know how supportive this community has been over the 43 years that the Women’s Center has been here, and I know that you will come out and help us raise that last million,” said Shirl Regan, president and CEO of the Women’s Center.