Community helps rebuild fire-damaged domestic violence shelter – NBC4 Washington
A domestic violence shelter in Fredericksburg, Va., is being forced to rebuild after a devastating fire sparked by a lightning strike in July.
No one was hurt in the Empowerhouse fire, but half the building sustained heavy water and smoke damage. A room filled with household supplies for victims of domestic violence was emptied.
“Everything in this room that we’re in right now, the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, has been destroyed,” Empowerhouse executive director Kathy Anderson said.
For security reasons, the shelter is keeping a low profile, so it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that news of the fire reached the Fredericksburg police and sheriff’s office.
Earlier in her detective career, Lt. Tabitha Merrell of the Fredericksburg Sheriff’s Office worked with victims of domestic violence.
“In an emergency where you need to get out of an abusive relationship or just a dangerous situation, Empowerhouse is there,” she said.
The police department and sheriff’s office return the favor, leading a community campaign to restock Empowerhouse.
Dental office manager Minh Hussey said her office will be collecting items all month for Empowerhouse.
“I know it sounds like a cliché, but for once they actually needed each other’s help,” she said.
“It just makes me want to cry,” Anderson said. “You know, she was bringing these things, and these gifts are increasing.”
Hopefully the shelter can at least partially reopen soon. Empowerhouse typically houses 25 women and children at any one time and helps 300 people each year.
The supply campaign is heartwarming for shelter staff and clients.
“It’s pretty amazing to see that the community wants to help an organization that helps people through their darkest days,” said Sarah Morris of the Fredericksburg Sheriff’s Office.
The next two Fridays, the police department and the sheriff’s office will be asking shoppers at the Central Park Wal-Mart to pick up a few items to add to the collection. Donations can be dropped off at any time at the police station.