Back to ‘Square One’ – Pomeroy Daily Sentinel

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GALLIPOLIS — While awaiting the final touches that lead to an official opening, Square One has opened its doors welcoming the community to not only view the new facility, but also to learn more about the program.

Square One’s mission is to “focus on maximizing positive impact in our community. Provide a safe place to house those in need and provide a one-stop-shop to reach all agencies committed to helping these people start a new life. We want to help stop the spread of substance abuse, homelessness and violence in the community.

According to the organization’s website, Square One stepped in after the local domestic violence shelter closed in July 2019, leaving a group of women and men without needed services. A group of individuals then came together with a common goal, to provide a safe place for those in need in the community.

Square One’s new facility on Olive Street in Gallipolis is awaiting some final inspections and occupancy certification, so organizers thought it was the perfect time to welcome the public.

“We wanted to open the doors to allow people to come in before any clients were housed here so everyone could see it and we didn’t have to compromise anyone’s privacy,” said Ashley Durst, director executive.

The design of the main sleeping quarters allows for both privacy and community, if needed.

“When we designed Square One, we knew we wanted to have individual units for our guests to allow them to have the privacy they need to decompress and really have privacy,” Durst said. . “We are adults and we need this time to be alone.”

Durst said that during her work with clients, she’s heard stories of clients waking up with others watching them, or phone lights keeping them awake.

“We wanted them to have this privacy so that no one had to watch them while they were sleeping and if someone was on the phone, the light wouldn’t bother them,” Durst said. “And like I said, they can go out there and they can cry if they need to without someone watching them.”

The bunk/sleeping area had been designed in steel which was beneficial after COVID-19.

“With the pandemic shutdown, each shelter had to minimize the number of clients they could help as everyone had to social distance,” Durst said. “We will never have to do this. We will always be able to be at full capacity because our steel walls already allow us to socially distance.”

Durst said the mattresses are all bed bug proof and the beds can be lifted to give more open space, if needed. Brinker Machine in Letart, West Virginia, built all of the lift beds and steel walls.

There is a small outdoor space for customers.

“They will be able to have a privacy zone, they will be able to go out and enjoy the good weather. Smoke if they need to, get some fresh air,” Durst said. “We are also going to put a raised vegetable garden back here to grow vegetables.

The refuge also houses two family rooms, which will have three beds – mom and two children.

Durst said there was an on-demand hot water tank. There are two sets of washers and dryers. The ladies’ room has two showers and two cabins. There is also a handicapped accessible bathroom. There is also a men’s bathroom.

“If we happen to have a male survivor, they’ll have their own bathroom,” Durst said. “Our plan right now is to work with Code 10 to put them in a hotel for a few days, so we can look into the situation and figure out what’s going on and find them another safe haven.”

Durst said they will work with other nonprofits to meet a variety of needs, including male survivors, and the plan is to one day have not just a men’s shelter, but also a family shelter.

The shelter has an open-plan office for all employees to work together and have open communication, Durst said “it feels more welcoming when clients come in.”

There is also a conference room for guests if required.

“It’s as soundproof as it gets, we have noise machines that they [can] turn on,” Durst said. If we have a client who needs to meet with a case manager or a counselor or even if they just need to have a conversation with a family member or something like that, they need a confidential space , he can come here and not have to worry about someone listening.

Moving into a large open space is the kitchen and living room. There is a small cloakroom where customers can put food, snacks or sodas that they buy themselves. Durst said the basics are provided, but sometimes those extras are a luxury for customers.

“We specifically wanted to have the residential kitchen versus a commercial kitchen because we’re teaching them life skills,” Durst said. “By teaching them to cook and clean, we want [them] so that they can take exactly what they have learned here, right to their new home.

Kitchen tables fold for easy storage, allowing organization to utilize open space for therapy and other life skills.

Durst said staff will also work with clients on how to budget their resources, complete resumes, housing applications and more.

The refuge will be able to accommodate 12 clients and their children, with no limit on the duration of services.

“Everyone comes to a different place in their healing,” Durst said. “It’s just different, as long as they’re working towards their goals and their case plan that they’ve established.”

Square One plans to be there whenever a customer needs help, even after they’ve left.

“We have a follow-up program that will allow our attorney to get in touch with them and stay with them for a period of time afterward,” Durst said. “Just to make sure they stay on track and don’t need anything, then at any time they can always come back or come back just to get services or whatever.”

Durst said security cameras will be in all community locations and there will be locked doors that will require buzzing for security.

Square One opened in 2019 and took over the Pine Street building in February 2020. Prior to opening the shelter, the nonprofit worked as a resource center – connecting victims to different resources and helping to guide them through time.

Durst said they also delivered food boxes during the pandemic to help connect with some of their customers.

Currently, Square One is funded by a Meigs County Community Development Block Grant, which gives them operating costs for one year. The facility provides service to customers in Gallia, Meigs and Jackson counties in Ohio.

“Over the next year, we’re going to work toward being able to bill Medicaid to help us generate revenue,” Durst said. “If someone doesn’t have Medicaid, we’ll still help them. Medicaid won’t pay for them to stay here, just some of the services we provide.

Durst said they are still accepting donations.

“Of course finances are always something we need,” Durst said. “Right now, because we’re getting ready to stock everything, we need oversized toiletries, paper goods, and anything that looks like pantry items.”

Durst said if anyone wanted to visit the facility before it opened or get more information about Square One or needed donations, they could contact the shelter to schedule a time.

As they hope for March, Durst said final certifications will determine the exact opening date of the shelter.

© 2022, Ohio Valley Publishing, all rights reserved.

In 2020, Bitanga Martial Arts in Middleport held their annual breakathon with Square One as the beneficiary. The fundraiser raised over $62,000. The organization took broken pieces of wood from this fundraiser to make the lobby wall with the quote, “even broken things can be beautiful”.

Each berth area allows guests to have their own space and privacy.

The steel frame and walls are durable and allow for good social distancing for customers.

The beds can rise and give the occupant more space for everything they need.

The shelter houses two sets of washers and dryers for guest use.

There are two family rooms in the refuge that can accommodate three occupants, such as a mother and her children.

The living room is connected to the kitchen and allows a large space to serve as a space for therapy sessions or other learning activities.

Tables roll up for easy storage. Guests are also provided with small lockers for personal groceries they may purchase.

There is a residential kitchen, where guests will learn to cook.

The conference room allows private meetings with clients, case managers, lawyers or anyone else who needs it.

The employee office is an open space, where Square One employees can communicate openly with each other and with customers.

Square One is located at 49 Olive Street in Gallipolis, Ohio.

The establishment organizes an open day

Brittany Hively is a writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Follow her on Twitter @brithively; join her at (740) 446-2342 extension 2555.


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