DANVILLE, Ind. - After 15 years of wear and tear, Sheltering Wings has replaced its kitchen for the women and families who live at the shelter.
The renovations took approximately ten weeks to complete, according to the shelter's executive director, Cassie Martin. In the final weeks of the old kitchen, which was put in when Sheltering Wings first opened its doors, there were few days where maintenance did not have to fix something.
“We were at the point that we were replacing various elements all the time," Martin said.
Cabinets and their hinges had fallen off, stove burners wouldn't heat up and the ovens wouldn't warm up. It was time to replace the whole thing, rather than constantly make repairs.
Martin said the project was done through grants and donations, including donated supplies, skill and time, and appliances. Some of the kitchen items were purchased at discounted prices while others were given to the shelter at no cost. She estimated that project came in at roughly half the cost of what it would have been if everything had to be bought at full price.
"The new place is more homey," said Martin. "It's more welcoming and more calming."
Shelter Wings can house up to 68 people at any given time - it's the second largest shelter in Indiana - and the kitchen is where the shelter becomes a community for those who live inside its walls.
“It’s where they gather for meals, for conversations and to share life together," Martin said. "So having a place like this, that feels like this, is just so much better for the families as they enter the doors.”
In November of 2015, Shannon Sturgeon came to Sheltering Wings. She said the shelter's kitchen is where she and other women there have connected.
“What the kitchen means to me is fellowship," she said. "Bringing the women together and learning about each other and understanding what we are all going through.”
The up-to-date kitchen will allow the shelter to help better prepare the residents to become more independent.
“For some of them, learning lives skills about how to cook, how to clean, how to maintain a kitchen, that’s a part of what we want to teach here," Martin said. "This space helps facilitate that.”
During renovations, the shelter had to close down the kitchen. It was able to provide a simple breakfast and lunch each day, which took place in the shelter's gymnasium. Dinner was provided by 60 local churches and other community organizations.
With the kitchen back up and running, the shelter is asking for perishable food donations to help fill it's new refrigerators.