It’s no secret that Eagle County will soon have a new safe house | VailDaily.com

It’s no secret that Eagle County will soon have a new safe house

Gypsum BrightHouse plan features new emergency shelter model for domestic violence, sexual assault victims

This rendering depicts the planned BrightHouse emergency shelter planned by the Bright Future Foundation. The shelter will be built near Ridley's Market in Gypsum.
Special to the Daily

EAGLE — Local residents who need emergency refuge because of domestic violence or sexual assault require shelter and security.

What they don’t necessarily need is secrecy. It’s a good thing they don’t,  because in these days of GPS searches and social media, it’s harder than ever to keep a secret.

Back in 1984, the Women’s Resource Center was formed in Eagle County to assist victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. For 35 years now, an emergency shelter has been a key component of that the organization’s mission as it evolved into the Bright Future Foundation. The foundation’s next evolution will happen in 2020 when it breaks ground on BrightHouse, a new emergency services shelter in Eagle County.

From the fundraising campaign to the new shelter’s location, nothing is a secret as foundation representatives presented their plans to the Eagle County Board of Commissioners during a work session this week.

“It is not possible, truly, to keep a shelter location confidential,” noted Bright Future Foundation Executive Director Sheri Mintz. “So, what we doing with our plan is we are working on enhanced security measures.”

“We have learned so much from other locations that have built facilities like this,” Mintz continued. “This is definitely the forward-thinking model for sheltering.”

Instead of trying to keep the shelter site secret from everyone, the foundation will work with clients on an individual basis regarding security concerns. After all, it’s much easier to keep one person or one family in a confidential location than to keep an entire program under wraps.

That thinking is grounded in reality. Someone who is living in a safe house doesn’t spend 24 hours a day within its walls. Residents go to work and their children go to school. What’s more, those families need to purchase groceries and attend functions. In the real world, what shelter clients need is a place to land that is conveniently located near community services. With the new BrightHouse, that’s what they will get.

Out in the community

The new BrightHouse will be built along Crestwood Drive in Gypsum, near Ridley’s Market. The site is right across U.S. Highway 6 from Eagle Valley High School and the ECO Transit bus stop.

“We have searched high and low and we have actually found the perfect piece of property,” Mintz said.

The BrightHouse will be a 5,900-square-foot, two-story structure. The design features foundation offices, group space, counseling rooms and common areas on the ground floor. On the second floor, there are five efficiency apartments equipped with kitchenettes, laundry facilities and a common kitchen/dining area. The plan also includes a secure play area for children.

Access to the building will be tightly controlled and Mintz said residents’ privacy will be preserved. Mintz added that BrightHouse clients will include people who aren’t residing at the shelter. Those individuals will be able to get assistance during regular business hours.

“They won’t ever see the families who are residential clients,” she said. “Oftentimes we have people from the community who want to come in and now we can welcome people into the space.”

“We will be more visible and more accessible now,” added Lissa Tyler, teh president of the board for Bright Future Foundation.

For the residential clients — most commonly a single mother with children — the residential spaces will be planned using trauma-influenced design. The goal is to provide a short-term, soothing environment.

“Instead of having people in emergency housing, we try to get them into permanent housing as quickly as possible because that is how they are going to thrive,” Mintz said. “But here in Eagle County, we are always going to need emergency housing because you can’t find a place to live. That is why our emergency housing is particularly important.”

2020 groundbreaking

The building budget for the new BrightHouse is $3.4 million. Bright Future Foundation currently has $1.75 million committed.

“Our goal is really to put shovel to the ground in June,” Tyler said.

Doe Browning, a board member, kicked off the fundraising with a $1 million gift. “Our shelter will bring dignity back to many who suffer, enabling them to live, work and play in our beautiful valley with trust and without fear,” Browning said.

Eagle County has committed $250,000 toward the BrightHouse effort.

“We have a number of naming opportunities and at this point in our campaign, so that is what we are currently looking for,” Mintz continued. As pledges come in, the foundation can leverage those funds to attract grant dollars.

To learn more about the BrightHouse plan or the Bright Future Foundation’s work with victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and human trafficking, visit mybrightfuture.org.