Stepping Stones to Hope – The Campaign for a New Enhanced Shelter
Stepping Stones Crisis Society has one vision and that is "Prevention of family violence through public awareness, outreach and supports". This emergency women's
shelter has been in operation for over 40 years in Cold Lake and offers their desperately needed services to the entire Lakeland region. Unfortunately the shelter in its current space is forced to turn away women and children in need due to being at over-capacity. This has been the situation for some time and things have only grown worse through the pandemic when family violence increased. To prepare for the ever-increasing number of clients they try and help on an annual basis, a difficult decision had to be made. That bold decision was to build a new shelter space and transitional housing complex. This would take their existing shelter operations currently spread out over 3 buildings and house them all in one and just as importantly establish an affordable 'transitional' housing option for clients after they leave the shelter. Most importantly, the new shelter will expand the number of shelter beds from 27 to 63 and the number of second-stage apartments form 6 to 12. This a bold decision because roughly 75% of the funding to construct this project was in hand by way of grants from various governments and the remaining 25% must be raised. This a daunting task but one that must be taken on with the same courage and intentions that Stepping Stones addresses the issue of domestic violence. There is no other way to meet the demand for their services.
Shared resident spaces will include a childcare area, community kitchens, pet housing, a salon, as well as an in-house school, which allows children in the shelter to continue learning when unable to go back to their school because of distance or safety reasons.
Community Support Spaces will be available to anyone who requires support, whether they are staying at the shelter or not. Private meeting spaces, training rooms, and a resource library will support programming that builds life skills and supports mental wellness.
Spiritual and cultural supports are also an important component of our current and future operations. Providing safe spaces in our new facility allows practices such as smudging and prayers to help a person’s journey to hope and healing.
Using trauma-informed design principles, we will create safe and calm spaces while promoting openness, light, and comfort. It is envisioned as a net-zero building.
Who Will it Benefit?
Women and children in need who are fleeing domestic violence situations in the Lakeland region. This is a group who have nowhere else to go unless they decide to return to an abusive relationship. This is obviously not a solution and one we must help them avoid making by providing the shelter and services they need.
The Stepping Stones emergency shelter remains a vital resource for our community, providing a safe haven for those in need. This year (2022/2023) we provided 3,430 safe bed nights, an increase of 64% over last year. Our shelter served 287 people last year, 149 women and 138 children, with an average stay length of 12 days - a 50% increase from
the previous year. Sadly, because we did not have enough space, we were unable to offer a bed to 162 women and children, who needed a safe place .Our in-house school continues to be a vital resource when children are unable to attend school due to distance or safety issues. This year, we provided 113 student days, offering educational support and stability to children during a time of great upheaval.
We remain dedicated to providing comprehensive support and resources to all those in need in our community.