Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton, is seeking to enhance services for victims of domestic violence and their children in Ocean County.
To commemorate the start of a major renovation project at the Ocean County Safe House, Congressman Chris Smith, R-NJ, joined staff, diocesan as well as local and state civic officials for a July 21 groundbreaking ceremony.
“The Providence House domestic violence shelter in Ocean County – and its hardworking, dedicated staff – provides critical support to women and children who have fled abusive domestic environments and are in dire need of protected transitional housing while they seek permanent, safe and independent living,” said Smith, who was responsible for securing $750,000 for the renovations.
“Catholic Charities does a great deal of work to help those in need,” said Smith, who hails from the Diocese of Trenton and attends St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Whiting. “Catholic Charities is about radiating the love of Christ to those who hurt. Catholic Charities reaches out to help in a Christ-like way.”
The facility currently accommodates 27 individuals in a communal, dormitory-style setting with shared bedrooms and bathrooms. The need to expand surfaced during the pandemic, when staff implemented safety protocols which significantly reduced the house’s capacity and the staff had to find alternative safe locations for survivors, explained Mary Pettrow, service area director for Catholic Charities Children and Family Services. She noted that during the pandemic there was a massive influx of survivors seeking refuge, which added to the challenges of providing a safe environment for the clients. Pettrow added that in 2022, Providence House provided 34,330 nights of shelter, nearly 3.5 times its capacity. As of July 21, there were 17 adults and 13 children residing in the safe house.
The additional funding will help to reconfigure the safe house and allow for additional bedrooms that can function as single units or combined units and allow for more privacy for families, Pettrow said.
“The new design will provide a more trauma-informed space that will go a long way in addressing not only public health concerns but also emotional wellbeing,” Pettrow said, then extended appreciation to Smith for his contribution.
“The construction would not have been possible without the congressman’s support,” Pettrow said. “He came through with flying colors and then some.”
“These significant renovations will make a huge difference by enabling the incredible, life-saving mission to assist even more individuals on their journey toward safety and recovery as they break free from the cycle of violence,” Smith added.