Women’s Center celebrates gift at opening of new center

Women’s Center celebrates gift at opening of new center
Women’s Center Board President Lisé Everly breaks down the wall of the old building for reconstruction.

The Women’s Center of Jacksonville received a special gift Oct. 10 during a pre-construction tour of the new Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (S.A.F.E.) Center at 5300 Emerson St.

J. Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver, of Riverside, donated $500,000 to help renovate the building and offered an additional $500,000 matching grant for the project.

“The Women’s Center of Jacksonville is delighted J. Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver have elected to help us build a new Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (SAFE) Center. Their generous gift of $500,000 to start the initiative to renovate a building to serve as a state-of-the-art forensic exam center will help us begin construction,” said Lisé Everly, WCJ board president.

“We are incredibly grateful for their support to help people of all genders who have survived sexual assault. With the help of the Weavers and people like them, we can tell survivors, ‘You’re Safe Here,’” she said.

The Women’s Center assumed responsibility for conducting sexual assault forensic exams in October 2014 for rape victims in Duval, Baker and Nassau counties, but needed a place centrally located in the Jacksonville area. The building is in need of a complete overhaul, said Teresa Miles, Women’s Center executive director, and that’s where the Weavers’ donation comes in.

After renovation is complete, the new center will include two full accessible waiting rooms, two exam rooms with showers, an interview room, permanent and temporary evidence storage rooms, front and rear access to the building for confidentiality, counseling rooms, and rooms for staff and law enforcement, as well as a large conference room for training and community meetings.

The nonprofit said the purchase, renovation and endowment of the S.A.F.E. Center will cost $3 million. They started a community initiative, “You’re SAFE Here” to raise money, and donations can be made at www.youresafehere.org.

During the past 12 months, the Women’s Center has fielded 2,682 hotline calls, conducted 339 forensic exams and served 705 sexual assault survivors.

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