Women’s Center makes the move | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Women’s Center makes the move

The South Lake Tahoe Women’s Center has a new home.

The filing cabinets crammed into narrow hallways topped with canned food and diapers are now a thing of the past. And no more squeezing clients into tiny offices, children at their feet, to discuss domestic violence and sexual assault issues in hearing range of everyone else in the room.

Those days are history.

The new Women’s Center, formerly the Lake Tahoe Christian Fellowship building at 2941 Lake Tahoe Blvd., has lots and lots of space – 5,800 square feet of it, in fact.

“I started volunteering at the Women’s Center 20 years ago. This is something we’ve wanted for our clients for a very long time. It’s wonderful to see it finally happen,” said shelter director Lois Denowitz. “When you have this sort of space you can offer your clients the type of professional service they deserve and would get anywhere else. By presenting ourselves in this professional way, they realize that domestic abuse is a very serious problem that we will not take lightly.”

The former main worship area of the church has been transformed into the crisis counseling area, with muted gray and burgundy partitions separating large, roomy desks. These individual “offices” are semi-private, with soft overhead and area lighting, and enough space to seat several clients, if need be, and a counselor. Also, a small section of this main room is filled with toys and games for children of various ages.

“We used to cram everyone into one room, kids crayoning on the floor while their mothers talked to counselors,” Denowitz said. “Now children can play and enjoy themselves. We’re even putting in a television and VCR so older kids have something to do.”

Although the feeling of the new center is entirely different from the cozy, womb-like ambience of the old 1,500-square-foot building at 3140 Lake Tahoe Blvd., legal advocate and crisis counselor Tamara Utzig hopes it will provide clients with an entirely different experience.

“With the individual offices, I think people will feel a lot more comfortable talking – especially since their kids will be busy in the play area,” Utzig said. “I think people will just feel better here. Domestic violence seems a lot more serious when it is acknowledged in this very professional way.”

The new building will also reunite the 20 staff members, seven of which had their offices at the “Y”. A wing of the old church will house Lake Tahoe Christian Fellowship offices for another six months, Denowitz said, after which it will contain shelter program offices and meetings.

Once it is fully vacated, the old Women’s Center building, which is owned by the city of South Lake Tahoe, will be examined by city building inspectors to determine its condition.

“Depending on what needs to be done to bring it up to code, if it doesn’t take too much, there is talk of making it the entrance to the camp grounds,” said Judy Crawford, recreation superintendent for the city. “I could become a place where people can get brochures and possible buy things at a little store.”

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