The Central Nova Women’s Resource Centre is the latest non-profit organization to find its forever home.
As of May 1, the centre took ownership of 67 Dominion Street, which many will recognize as the former space occupied by Dr. Cam Jeffrey. On May 9, it officially closed the chapter on its time at the Truro Centre on Esplanade Street.
The centre will re-open in its new home on May 24.
“It’s going to be a soft opening with the resumption of regular programming and services,” said Executive Director Julie Crouse. “On June 8, that’s when we’re going to have our open house and we hope the community and our neighbours will come out to see us in our new space.”
Prior to moving into the Truro Centre, the centre occupied Ginger House on Prince Street. However, space became an issue which prompted the first move.
While the space in the Truro Centre met their needs space wise, Crouse says the plan was never to stay there long-term.
“The goal was always to find something permanent,” she said. “Before we could do that, we needed to look at what we could afford, space requirements and what we wanted to be as an organization moving forward. The space we’re in now is amazing. It’s huge and we have terrific landlords but it just doesn’t meet those needs when we think of a women’s centre and what it should be.”
Before anything could happen, the women’s centre needed to find a bank that was willing to give them a mortgage. That’s when the Community Credit Union stepped up.
“We didn’t really have any money,” said Crouse. “But that didn’t prevent them from finding a way to work with us. They’ve been so incredible. They looked at what we had and created a plan. We needed to come up with a small down payment.”
The Town of Truro also made things a bit easier after council approved $30,000 over two years to help with the purchase of the property. A request for financial support has also been made to the County of Colchester as well, but Crouse hasn’t received a response yet.
Leading up to the discovery of the Dominion Street house, Crouse says they looked at a number of other properties. However, they had a very specific requirement list that had to be met.
“Accessibility was at the top of that list,” Crouse said. “We wanted to make sure we had a space where no one would experience issues getting into the building. We have a wheelchair ramp at the back of the building and it’s nice and wide. We also didn’t want a place that was going to require a lot of renovations.”
In the end, they found exactly what they were looking for and more.
“This building is beautiful. It’s in a heritage zone so we really want to focus on maintaining that appearance,” continued Crouse. “It has such a cool vibe. As soon as we went in and started walking around, I started feeling like this was the place. It has a great outdoor space and there is also a two-bedroom apartment on the second floor. At this point, we’re looking to use it as housing. We really want to expand into that market.”
What that looks like has yet to be determined. Crouse says there is no rush to rent the place out which gives them an opportunity to explore different ideas.
“This would be an entirely new level of service for the women’s centre which is exciting. It will definitely meet a need in our community,” added Crouse. “I look at this as a jumping off point for us and it’s great that includes an investment not only in our community but ourselves. This is a step we can take to ensure sustainability for our organization. We don’t know what the future holds but we feel taking this step improves the odds of us being around in 20 years.”
The fact the building doesn’t need to be renovated means the women’s centre can make the move without launching a public fundraising campaign.
It was something the board of directors and staff strongly considered but in the end, they opted to go in a different direction.
“There are a couple of campaigns on the go now and we really want to support the organizations like the food bank, homeless shelter and Canadian Mental Health Association,” said Crouse. “Those are really great organizations and we didn’t want to be out there competing with them. We needed to meet our needs so we looked for larger pots of funding that would help us get where we needed to go without knocking on doors.
“Colchester County is amazing in terms of the philanthropic spirit,” she continued. “I’ve never seen it to this extent before. While we’re always looking for opportunities to get money to support the work we do, we really felt strongly that we should focus on what we could do ourselves. It was very strategic for us in that way.”
Having said that, Crouse is fully aware work to the house will have to be done in the future.
Until that time arrives, the plan now is to simply enjoy the new home for the Central Nova Women’s Resource Centre.
“This is the result of a lot of work by staff, our board, volunteers and others in the community who have shared their time with us to come and look at the space,” Crouse said. “Everyone is chuffed. We’re all just super chuffed. On one hand it’s sad to be leaving this space because we’ve made a home here. We have great neighbours. But it’s a new chapter for the centre. It really has that first time homebuyers feeling. It’s allowing us to think about our future and all the things we want to do moving forward.”