Saturday, August 22 2009
What used to be bare lawn is now a colorful playground at the Albion Fellows Bacon Center for victims of domestic and sexual violence.
The yard at the shelter for women and children in Evansville was never fancy — just green lawn inside a nondescript privacy fence — but it was graced with the cooling, peaceful shade of a large hardwood tree.
However, the loss of that tree in a storm last year left the yard with only a picnic table and no shelter from the sun.
That changed recently with the receipt of a $4,694 "two-for-two" grant from the Indiana Pacers Foundation and Verizon Wireless. The communications company pledged to contribute $2 for every two-point field goal the Pacers made during the 2007-2008 season. The Albion Fellows Bacon Center applied for and received a grant to transform its yard into a more hospitable space.
"The backyard used to just be a plain, grassy lawn. On a day when it is 95 degrees, there is not a woman who is going to sit out there without shade," said Jenny Ballard, assistant director.
The center used the money to purchase three new saplings of a variety of maple that is expected to grow into shade trees within a few years. More tables and a small shed also were added.
The main additions, however, were a swing set and a large piece of play equipment set in soft playground mulch.
The changes provide a secure place for children to play and their mothers to watch them outside the confines of the shelter's walls.
Help for guests
An average of about 25 women and children a month stay at the shelter. Women and minor children may stay there up to 45 days.
In addition, the shelter operates a 24-hour domestic violence and sexual assault hot line, support groups, crisis intervention counseling, advocacy and help referrals.