Weather Forecast


Work starts July 8 on DL women's shelter

An architectural rendition of the new women's shelter to be built in Detroit Lakes. (Submitted graphic)

A couple of years ago, a local woman approached the Lakes Crisis & Resource Center staff to ask numerous questions about its operations.

She then toured the facility and began doing some research. A short time later the woman, Mary Newman, let them know what all that research had been about: She made a $1 million donation to the organization for the construction of a shelter that would provide a temporary safe haven for abuse victims.

"She (Newman) had a vision, and a passion for helping women and children who are victims of domestic violence," said Jan Logan, executive director of the Lakes Crisis & Resource Center.

"Jan also deserves a lot of credit," noted Cyndi Anderson, the LCRC's founding director and current chair of the capital campaign for the shelter project.

"From her first day of taking over as executive director, she has been keenly aware of the needs of those served by the organization -- first and foremost among those needs is for them to be in a safe place."

A dedicated shelter facility would provide just such a haven. Despite Newman's generous donation, however, more money -- and a lot of planning -- was needed to make the structure a reality.

Two years later, that vision is about to come to fruition. At 10 a.m. on Thursday, July 8, the LCRC will break ground on its new headquarters and shelter facility, to be located at 1339 Pelican Lane in Detroit Lakes.

Known as "Mary's Place," the new facility will provide "safety, healing and hope... for women and children who have been hurt by violence in our community," Logan noted.

"The community has been incredibly supportive... and we have been lucky enough to get a number of grants," said Anderson -- including $200,000 from the Otto Bremer Foundation, $50,000 from the Mardag Foundation and another $50,000 from the Detroit Lakes Community Foundation.

"We still have about $200,000 left to raise, of a $3 million campaign," Anderson added. "We could have the facility paid for by the time we break ground."

When "Mary's Place" is finished, LCRC staffers will move from their current offices on Washington Avenue into the organization's new, permanent home. All LCRC programs and services will then be located under one roof, Logan noted.

The shelter will also address a need in the community that has gone largely unaddressed until now, she added.

"One of the major reasons a woman does not flee a domestic violence situation is because there's no place for her to go," Logan said. "This shelter will provide a safe, nurturing environment to help these women and their children stay in the community."

The shelter will also provide educational opportunities to assist these women in starting a new life, free of abuse and violence, she added -- and their children will be safer as well.

Statistics have shown that child abuse is 15 times more likely to occur in families where domestic violence is present, said Leona Ulrich, a senior advocate at LCRC.

Forty percent of men who abuse women also abuse children, and approximately 90 percent of children growing up in these homes are aware of the violence being directed toward their mother, she added.

"The majority of abusive men have grown up in families where they have witnessed their fathers abusing their mothers," Ulrich said. In fact, she added, boys who grew up witnessing family violence are 10 times more likely to abuse their own wives.

Further, children who witness domestic violence are more likely to attempt suicide, abuse drugs and alcohol, run away from home, and engage in teenage prostitution.

And how many children witness acts of domestic violence each year? Between 3.5 and 10 million, said Ulrich.

The evolution of LCRC

"This is an exciting time for the organization," said Anderson. "I've seen a lot of changes since 1989, when I was hired (as the Center's first executive director). I worked in an 8- by 10-foot room at St. Mary's Hospital.

"I had a desk, a two-drawer filing cabinet and a ficus tree," Anderson added, noting with a laugh that she had to clean up falling leaves from the tree every morning.

That office was located in the old 1939 wing of the hospital that was just demolished earlier this month to make room for a major addition at St. Mary's Innovis Health.

And now, the Center is about to break ground on a new facility of its own.

"It's exciting and affirming to know the organization has not only survived, it's thrived," said Anderson, noting that the shelter groundbreaking will serve as a symbol of "the tremendous growth of the organization and its ability to meet the needs of the people in our community."

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454