Shelter House Awarded $125,000 Grant for New Building

November 26, 2014 by SoWal Staff

Shelter House received one of two grants in the amount of $125,000 awarded by Impact 100 of Northwest Florida. The domestic and sexual violence center will use the grant to purchase a new building that will house its main Program Office in Fort Walton Beach and increase the agency's capacity to serve the community.

The agency houses more than 400 women and children each year in its emergency shelter, however, the Program Office serves an additional 1,000 survivors of domestic and sexual violence. The women, children and men who receive services through Shelter House’s Outreach program could be living on their own or with a friend, in the shelter, in one of Shelter House’s transitional apartments or, in many cases, still living with their abuser.

Everyone Shelter House works with receives a number of services, including access to a giving closet, legal support, therapy, support groups and a victim advocate. In the past four years, Shelter House has expanded services to include domestic violence support groups, Spanish speaking groups, mental health support groups, rape crisis services, economic empowerment, literacy, mental health therapy, child therapy and children’s groups.

Having increased staff to meet the growing needs of the community, Shelter House outgrew its current offices and applied for the Impact 100 grant for funding to purchase a larger building. “We are incredibly grateful for this award from Impact 100,” said Shelter House Executive Director Michelle Sperzel. “This funding means that our community is invested in helping people who have been traumatized by domestic and sexual violence. The entire project will cost approximately $500,000, and this is a great start to make it happen.”

The new office building has space for each staff member to have her/his own office, eliminating the need to shuffle offices when an advocate is meeting with a participant. There will be a children’s lobby, children’s therapy room and a group therapy room. A training/meeting room will provide space for community meetings and participant classes. In the second phase of the move, Shelter House plans to remodel one room as a medical exam room for rape kits to be collected by Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, allowing victims to have the examination performed in a calm, supportive environment.

Shelter House has already made an offer on an existing building and plans to begin the remodel in January and move in the spring. Volunteers from Hurlburt Air Force Base and St. Peter’s Catholic Church have already signed on to assist with the remodel. Additional funding for the remodel has been pledged by Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation.

Shelter House, Inc. is the state certified domestic and sexual violence center serving Okaloosa and Walton counties and offering emergency confidential shelter, crisis counseling, a 24-hour hotline, children’s programs, information and referrals, education, professional training, safety planning and prevention services to survivors of domestic violence and their children and sexual violence survivors. For more information, please visit

The mission of Impact 100 of Northwest Florida, Inc. is to financially support non-profit organizations in Northwest Florida by empowering women as philanthropists and leaders, by bridging the geographic areas of our region, and by leveraging the talents of women to be a positive force for good in our communities.

The idea is simple: 100 women donate $1,000 each to form a $100,000 grant to fund a community need. Membership is open to all women over 18 in Okaloosa and Walton counties. Each member of IMPACT 100 determines the level of her involvement—whether she wants to simply write a membership check, or read and evaluate grant applications and visit the grant applicants’ projects. Most importantly, 100% of each member’s contribution is awarded to non-profit organizations, with none of that contribution going to administrative costs. Learn more at


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