‘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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Garden City officials hold a meeting to discuss gun violence and possible solutions



a group of people in a room


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Officials of Garden City held a meeting to discuss gun violence and possible solutions. In the past year,  officials said they’ve had 27 shootings and five deaths. 

They want to get this under control.  

“To ensure a safe community in which we can live in, to ensure a safe community our children can play in, and a community in which our elders can feel safe in,” said Reverend Monroe. 

Officials said they want to go to when they didn’t worry about crime in Garden City and people didn’t feel scared. 

“They’re concerned because young kids are losing their lives. They’re scared because bullets are flying,” said Councilwoman Natalyn Morris. 

Reverend Monroe presented “Operation Protect” to the council today. This includes a 10 point plan on how to address crime. He gave ideas such as installing more home security cameras, gated communities and having more officers on duty. 

Councilwoman Marsha Daniels urged those in the crowd to tell council if they see something. If they don’t want to tell them, call Crime Stoppers. 

They said one shooting is one too many and they want to take action immediately. 

Chief Ballard of the Garden City Police Dept. said they’re beginning to install cameras throughout the city and they want to grow this quickly so they can put a dent in criminal activity.

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Erie County Tribute Garden honors domestic violence victims, survivors

On Saturday a celebration of the Tribute Garden’s fifth anniversary will be held. A poem will be unveiled on the stone steps of the berm.

TONAWANDA, N.Y. — Erie County’s Tribute Garden in Isle View Park is believed to be the first of its kind on public land. II’s designed to raise awareness around domestic violence while honoring victims and survivors.

Karen King of the Erie County Status of Women Commission there garden is “also a space where you can gather information through our kiosk and information about resources that are available in our community, if you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship and needs help.”  

According to the the National Coalition against Domestic Violence “domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse.”

On Saturday a celebration of the Tribute Garden’s fifth anniversary will be held. A poem will be unveiled on the stone steps of the berm.

It’s a true community project from beginning to end.

Cornell cooperative extension master gardeners offer service learning opportunities for for middle and high school  students.

“We believe it’s been instrumental in exposing the problem and also teaching young people what they can do if they know someone who is impacted by domestic violence and the resources that are available. it also helps d to support a program called teen relationship violence awareness program,” King said.

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