The Journal Gazette
Friday, October 22, 2021 1:00 am

YWCA receiving $200,000 grant

AEP gift to help refurbish hotel into home for women

SHERRY SLATER | The Journal Gazette

The AEP Foundation is helping a local nonprofit amp up its facility to serve more women and children.

YWCA Northeast Indiana will receive a $200,000 grant from the foundation on behalf of Indiana Michigan Power. The gift is being made to support renovation and development of the former Hall's Guesthouse, 1313 W. Washington Center Road.

When it opens next year, the 124-unit hotel will house up to 100 women recovering from substance abuse. The remaining beds will be used by their children.

The two-story property was renamed The Hefner Center in July in honor of the William J. and Bonnie L. Hefner Foundation, which has been a financial supporter of the local YWCA.

The building will house Bonnie's House, the YWCA's domestic violence crisis center; Hope and Harriet, the YWCA's addiction recovery program; and its other programs and offices.

The Fort Wayne Board of Zoning Appeals in December voted to prohibit from the recovery program anyone convicted of a violent offense in the six months prior to admission. The board also mandated 24-7 security.

The renovated facility's ballroom, where the YWCA will have meetings and other events, is being named the AEP Foundation Ballroom. The 8.2-acre property also includes a central courtyard, gazebos, and indoor and outdoor swimming pools.

Paula Hughes-Schuh, the YWCA's chief executive, thanked the foundation Thursday during the organization's 25th annual Circle fundraiser at Memorial Coliseum.

“Their early contribution to this project shows their commitment to the citizens of northeast Indiana,” Hughes-Schuh said.

YWCA Northeast Indiana anticipates renovations will be complete next year, when operations will consolidate into the building from 5920 Decatur Road and 2417 Fairfield Ave., the current facilities.

Steve Baker, Indiana Michigan Power's president and chief operating officer, said the AEP Foundation is proud to support the YWCA's “vital services.”

The AEP Foundation is funded by American Electric Power and its utility operating units, including Indiana Michigan Power.

The Columbus, Ohio-based foundation's focus includes supporting education, protecting the environment, meeting basic human needs for food, housing, health and safety, and enriching life through art, music and cultural heritage.

YWCA Northeast Indiana's mission is to eliminate racism, empower women and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. The nonprofit serves individuals and families affected by domestic violence, chemical dependencies and sexual assault in six northeast Indiana counties.

The organization also offers educational programming about diversity and healthy relationships, operates a boutique that suits underprivileged women for interviews and participates in racial justice initiatives.

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