Donors step up for YWCA Rock County kitchen remodeling project
JANESVILLE Cooking at the YWCA Rock County’s domestic violence shelter made Lindsay Franklin realize how much she loves to bake.
The 26-year-old single mom of two spent a lot of time in the kitchen while staying at the shelter, teaching other mothers how to cook.
It helped her realize her dream.
“If not for the YWCA’s kitchen, I probably would have never started my own cheesecake business. It’s a small business, but it makes me happy and lets me be at home with my boys,” Franklin said.
Nearly 350,000 meals have been been prepared in the kitchen for thousands of women and their children who have sought safe shelter in the facility since 2001. It is part of the YWCA’s community services center at 1735 S. Washington St.
But the years of daily use were beginning to show on the kitchen cupboards, countertops, flooring and appliances.
A year ago, YWCA staff and board members decided to raise money to remodel the kitchen. The first fundraiser was the 2011 Chefs for a Cause event.
“We raised over $15,000,” said Jeff Bealles, fund development coordinator.
“Several major donors stepped up to fund the remodel, while members of the South Central Wisconsin Builder’s Association are helping stretch those dollars by donating project management, planning and labor,” said Beth Wheelock Tallon, YWCA public relations director.
The Altrusa Club of Beloit donated $2,300 for new stoves, and more donations continue to arrive, she said.
Chad Barnes, project leader, and Carol Engebretson, executive officer of the builder’s group, explained why they’re involved.
“Providing shelter where there is a need is one of our board’s community service projects,” Engebretson said.
“During the three-day project, the builder’s association will have at least 50 people and nearly a dozen different businesses helping out,” she said.
“It falls within the South Central Wisconsin Builders Association’s mission to give back to the community. That is pertinent to our association and what we do—building and remodeling projects. We’re just doing what we do best,” said Barnes, who knows a woman empowered by YWCA programs.
Kitchen demolition and remodeling work started early Thursday morning. The bulk of the project is scheduled to finish today, Bealles said.
Cabinetry was donated to Habitat for Humanity Janesville ReStore resale outlet.
While the kitchen is being renovated, meals were being brought in by volunteers for shelter guests and volunteer workers, Wheelock Tallon said.
Although the kitchen was functional, Franklin said it needed work.
“While in the shelter, it’s important to be able to prepare our food and eat a nutritious meal in a good setting,” she said. “So many families (in domestic violence situations) crave normalcy.
“Food is comforting and brings together women in awkward, uncomfortable situations.”