WHEATLAND – When safety is an issue in a place where being safe is advocated, action must be taken, and Project Safe, Inc. in Wheatland is in just such a position.
Project Safe is Platte County’s only victim advocacy program and has been serving victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and other crimes since 1988.
Just recently this safe haven has suffered a structural breakdown and after years of use, the roof on an addition to the original building is caving in. Although shored up by temporary 2x4 beams, a permanent solution must be found.
In today’s world, the word “insurance” is comforting, but in the case of Project Safe, they are getting no help to insure from their insurance company and a huge reconstruction bill could be catastrophic.
The incident happened in the third weekend in July according to Executive Director, Samantha Twiford.
“We’ve been waiting on insurance to get back with us,” she said. “And they finally did last week when I started the GoFundMe page and knew we were not going to get any help. Our initial estimates from two different contractors were around $10k.”
According to Twiford, the problem is not minor, but is going to involve tear down and reconstruction of a header that will be strong enough to carry the span between supports. At this point, it has been almost four months without space that is absolutely crucial for the operation of the nonprofit organization. The office and front desk and foyer area are both in jeopardy and one of the offices houses all the permanent files for the center.
“At this point, I just want my office back and get it secure,” Twiford said. “We don’t have to make it beautiful, but we need to have some basic structure replaced.”
Kind of a sad statement when this organization works so hard to make the lives of those that have been broken, beautiful again. Twiford is willing to take less just to make the facility secure and functional, although many are hoping to be able to bless this organization with functional and beautiful as a reward for all they do for Platte County.
Project Safe not only offers a place to counsel the broken, but they go the extra mile to make sure lives are put back together. Hope is sown into each individual that comes through their doors. They offer a 24/7 crisis line, crisis intervention, compensation and restitution claim assistance, community education, an emergency shelter and life skills assistance just to name a few of their services.
The success stories that come out of this program have been monumental.
The building which was originally a church had an addition put on somewhere before the 1980s and most likely construction was done without the consultation of a building inspector. The header to carry the 20-foot span was not close to code and after time, the mini-header they had installed was just not strong enough to carry the weight.
Although Project Safe has been in existence since 1988, the organization did not purchase the building until the early 2000s.
Although there is a temporary fix in the building, after four months, the 2x4 temporary post is already splitting under the weight of the roof. With any amount of snow load, this center is facing some immediate and dire problems including a roof collapse which will expose the entire building to the elements.
“When I first noticed it the morning I came in, you could see that the suspended ceiling had buckled,” Twiford said. “I was like, holy cow, what just happened. We were having the building painted at the time, so we were wondering if it was the vibration or the weight of the men on the roof was just enough.”
Twiford said that as she got a ladder and investigated further, she found the broken header and the entire roof had sunk down. She knew there was a problem also from the cold air blasting from the exposed space
At this point the center has garnered estimates from H & H Concrete Construction and Young Guns Construction and according to their board of directors, they need one more estimate before it can be submitted and approved.
“We’re in crisis mode right now,” she said. “So of course, we want to know what is the absolute minimum they can do to get it secure and to get the room back to being useable. Because me being down here in another office is taking up our supervised visitation space and also me with client space. It’s not ideal for our clients either.”
The GoFundMe link is currently on the Project Safe, Inc. Facebook page. So far the center has only seen a few hundred dollars come in which is not nearly enough even to make the minimal repairs. The organization has been hit also this year with COVID cutbacks and took a 15% budget cut without the loss of any of their workload. Anything they had used to absorb that blow is now, not available for reconstruction.
You can contact Project Safe, Inc. at their website: www.projectsafe-wyo.com or visit them at their Facebook page: facebook.com/ProjectSAFEInc/ You may also call for information at (307) 322-4794.