‘Our kitchen helps heal’: Bridgewater domestic violence shelter wins kitchen reno contest

At Harbour House, a 15-bed haven for women and children escaping domestic violence in Bridgewater, N.S., the kitchen is more than a room for cooking.

It’s where body and spirit are nourished, laughter erupts, and sadly, tears are shed.

“I think a lot of women and kids come into the shelter and their spirits and their bodies are pretty broken, and our kitchen helps heal that,” said Jennifer Gagnon, the shelter’s executive director.

But in this 160-year-old home that’s been a shelter for more than three decades, the kitchen needed a lot of TLC — especially the countertop. The laminate had seen better days.

Jennifer Gagnon is the executive director of South Shore Transition House Association. (Linked In)

“We did a little internal renovations a couple of years ago and tried to brighten it up that way, but it certainly didn’t shine,” Gagnon said.

So when the chance to win a new countertop appeared on Gagnon’s Facebook feed in late May, she started typing a nomination for Harbour House. The contest was put on by a local company, Stonewrights, as a way to show appreciation to customers for keeping their business afloat during the pandemic.

Of the five community groups in the running, Harbour House had the most votes, hands down, said Martina Groeger, co-owner of Stonewrights.

She’s glad the shelter was the winner because its work is close to her heart. Groeger is a former teacher and the past chair of the Lunenburg County Community Health Board. She said the shelter’s work was vital during the COVID-19 lockdown. 

“Part of my concern was what is going to happen to women and children that are actually at home with an abusive partner or parent because we know that exists,” she said.

The old kitchen had tired laminate countertops and electrical outlets in areas that made them less functional. (Martina Groeger)

A couple of days ago, Stonewrights finished sprucing up the large kitchen. Workers installed 66 square feet of shiny granite, a high-end, durable countertop worth $6,000. That gift kick-started a bigger act of charity and transformation.

Stonewrights added a new backsplash. It also paid for a new sink, while a local plumber contributed a new faucet and installation work. An electrician volunteered to move the outlets to create a more functional kitchen.

Groeger has heard the residents want to take care of the finishing touches — painting the room.

“The women and children who are at the house, they especially deserve something that makes them feel good,” she said. “If they feel good, I feel good.”

Gagnon says Stonewrights’s workers minimized disruption at the shelter during the kitchen overhaul. (Martina Groeger)

It’s hoped a donor will come forward with new flooring to replace the checkered vinyl tiles to complete the kitchen makeover. The big reveal is planned later this month.

Gagnon said it’s wonderful to have a new, gorgeous space that reflects the beautiful things that happen inside it.

“It’s pretty absolutely incredible,” she said, her voice trembling a bit. 

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New Hampshire Homeowners: How To Prep For Your Kitchen Reno

This post is sponsored and contributed by a Patch Brand Partner. The views expressed in this post are the author’s own.

Smart tips to get your home ready for a successful kitchen remodel.
Smart tips to get your home ready for a successful kitchen remodel. (Shutterstock)

A kitchen makeover can have a drastic impact on the look and value of your New Hampshire home. Whether you’re completely gutting the room or just installing new cabinets, a renovation can make you fall in love all over again with your kitchen.

Make it easy for your contractor to work by clearing out your kitchen ahead of time. One week before work is scheduled to begin you can start packing up those items you won’t be using again until after the renovation. This includes dry foods, such as canned goods and spices. Pack these items in labeled boxes and store in another room.

For your fragile dishware, pack carefully and cushion with newspaper to avoid breakage. Alternatively, you can place dishes on the bed or floor of a spare bedroom.

The day the project starts, your kitchen cabinets and pantry should be completely bare. Not only will your contractor be able to work without anything getting in the way, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that all your kitchen items are safely stored where they won’t be damaged.

2. Cover and Protect Flooring

For all types of flooring, including hardwood and tile, you’ll need to be sure it’s covered and protected before the renovation begins. No matter how careful your contractor is there’s always the risk of damage to flooring throughout every phase of the remodel.

A good option is to purchase scraps of carpet and secure them to the floor with duct tape. Be cautious with hardwood floors as the adhesive may cause damage to the finish.

For added protection for hardwood and tile, place a carpet pad between the floor and carpet scraps. This extra precaution is ideal for existing or new floors, guarding them against costly repairs.


Ready to remodel your kitchen? Contact a HomeAdvisor contractor in New Hampshire.


3. Contractor Access

Give your contractor easy access to your home. Plan ahead of time with the work crew, letting them know that you’ve provided them with a clear and unobstructed path from their truck to your home. This may mean parking your own vehicle elsewhere for the duration of the project, but it’s a small thing to do to let your contractor know you’re making it as easy as possible for them to do their job.

4. Put Away Valued Items

Take a last look around before your kitchen remodel kicks off. Make sure you’ve removed valued items such as plants from the windowsill and trinkets from the countertops. Don’t forget to pack away those photos and postcards you’ve got pinned to the fridge. Even if your

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