Clients often find their way to Alternatives through a referral from hospital staff, police officers social service agents or church officials. On average women stay 22 days, but some only need one night. Some are moved to transitional housing and remain for two years.
Cheery walls are dotted with artwork from children who have enjoyed the on-site preschool. Two-story ceilings and high windows in the bedrooms provide a spacious feel and beautiful tile work in the bathroom rivals those of nice hotels.
During the holiday season, Christmas trees adorn most rooms. Small, desktop trees grace the bedrooms while large trees are the focal point of the main foyer and gathering rooms. Snowmen, gingerbread men and lollypops also spread joy to visitors.
Robbie’s Room, however, is a feast for the eyes all year round. A preschool room full of color and light, shelves crowded with books and bins full of educational toys is waiting for the children to enjoy. In fairer weather, the playground also offers loads of fun, but is surrounded by the walls of the building to ensure safety from both intruders and wandering feet.
“Robbie, his sister and his mother came here (the old facility) five or six times,” said Amy Bond, residential services manager. “The last time she returned home, her husband got drunk and angry, put the kids in his truck and drove off the road. He killed both the kids. We found Robbie’s handprint and decided to name the room after him as a constant reminder of how much we can lose to domestic violence.”
Rather than the dreary atmosphere of shelters on television, Alternatives is a comfortable and pleasant place to regroup.
“I was talking to the teacher of a child who had been staying with us recently,” said Lee. “She reported that he said this was the best place he has ever been. That’s a little sad, but it feels good to know we are making such a difference in the lives of children.”
Each week, Emma Bowen Meyer features a Madison County home. If you know of a home that should be showcased, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.