Haven shelter begins construction of new $400,000 facility

By Clark Corbin
Post Register
Printed on Wednesday, April 14, 2010

ccorbin@postregister.com

Nonprofit leaders broke ground Tuesday on a $400,000 building project designed to ease overcrowding concerns at The Haven shelter in Idaho Falls.

Once completed in October, the 3,000-square-foot building will house a computer lab, a kitchen and an exercise room to benefit residents of the shelter, said Anne Johnson, The Haven's director.

The Haven is a 22-room shelter for women and families that was built 20 years ago out of a converted motel at 2480 S. Yellowstone Ave. It is owned by and receives funding from the nonprofit Eastern Idaho Community Action Partnership.

The new building is being constructed by Idaho Falls-based Shook Construction Co. Inc. on land just south of The Haven's existing facility.

Johnson and EICAP officials have run a multiyear fundraising campaign that made the expansion possible.

Johnson and The Haven's staffers will use the computer lab to conduct GED education courses for shelter residents and community members, while the "training kitchen" will help mothers develop cooking skills so they can provide quality meals for their families once they leave the shelter, Johnson said.

"For our residents, it's an opportunity to expand the services we offer now," Johnson said, adding that the exercise room is a new service aimed at reducing stress.

During the past two years, Johnson complained about her ability to offer educational programs in a cramped setting. The courses were held in a small space that doubled as the shelter's office and lobby, and residents were often forced to share computers or watch while others learned cooking skills.

The expansion will help ease those space concerns and is part of a larger expansion that is designed to ultimately add as many as 19 additional rooms to the shelter, said Russ Spain, EICAP's executive director.

"(The current expansion) will give us a lot more space to use in our learning areas and give us so many opportunities we never had before," Spain said.

Officials have yet to set a target date for beginning the second phase of the expansion.

As part of the fundraising campaign, Johnson and Spain secured a $125,000 grant from the CHC Foundation, $100,000 in community development block grant funding that came through the city of Idaho Falls and thousands more in private and corporate donations.

Apple Athletic Club donated equipment for the exercise room, while an anonymous donor provided the land and funds to begin the current phase of expansion, Spain said.

Business reporter Clark Corbin can be reached at 542-6761. Comment on this story at Post Talk at www.postregister.com/posttalk.