Story provided by the Billings Gazette. You can find the original story here: https://billingsgazette.com/news/local/work-begins-on-second-domestic-violence-shelter-at-ywca-in-billings/article_40f85801-cba0-5ec9-afa9-a8abbc4bd8f9.html
YWCA Billings broke ground Friday on a new shelter that will offer a safe harbor for victims of violence and abuse.
The two-story, 24-hour secured Gateway Horizons Shelter will provide 25 studio apartments, laundry facilities, a food pantry, counseling and case management offices, along with the YWCA’s 24/7 help lines where 4,775 callers were assisted in the last year.
Construction of what will be YWCA’s second Billings domestic violence shelter began earlier this week, said the program’s CEO Merry Lee Olson. The project got its biggest push in January of 2021 with an unrestricted $1 million gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.
For the past 25 years YWCA Billings has provided a safe place at its existing Gateway Shelter for people fleeing domestic abuse, sexual violence and human trafficking. The women and children who stay there receive multiple services, including shelter, legal services, counseling and support in finding housing at no charge.
Gateway Shelter will be the only 24-hour/365 day per year secured facility in an 18,500-square-mile-area, and last year the people who came there for protection were from 22 of Montana’s 56 counties, three American Indian reservations, and seven other states.
The new shelter will increase YWCA’s capacity by 300 percent. “Over the life of the new shelter, thousands of women and children will be assisted with live-saving sheltering and life-changing wrap-around services. With our help, families can heal from the complex trauma of violence and poverty,” Olson said.
YWCA recently got its second big boost for the shelter with a $55,000 donation from Stockman Bank.
“We are proud to partner with the YWCA to help empower women and children and put them on a path living a life free of violence and poverty,” said Wayne Nelson, the bank’s Billings market president.
Stockman Bank Billings Market President Wayne Nelson, right, presents a $55,000 gift to YWCA CEO Merry Lee Olson to be used in constructing a second domestic violence shelter in Billings.
To date, YWCA has received and has awards pending $3.2 million toward the total project cost of $4 million, Olson said Friday.
Other significant donors include the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, the MJ Murdock Charitable Trust, the Gianforte Family Foundation, Treacy Foundation; and organizations such as Neighbor-Works MT and Big Horn County.
To fully fund the Gateway Horizons project YWCA still needs to raise $1.1 million. Supporters can donate at Venmo @ywcabillings; by calling YWCA Billings at 406-2526303; online at www.ywcabillings.org/donate/ or mailing contributions to YWCA‒Gateway Horizons, 909 Wyoming Avenue, Billings, Montana 59101.
More media coverage can be found here on KTVQ’s website: https://www.ktvq.com/news/local-news/ywca-breaks-ground-on-new-facility-in-billings