MILWAUKEE -- Sojourner Family Peace Center has taken care of women and children for decades in Milwaukee, and starting this month, it's expanding its reach by providing shelter, child protection and core health services under one roof.
Sojourner Family Peace Center's new facility, located at the corner of N. 6th Street and W. Walnut in Milwaukee has been 10 years in the making.
The new facility centralizes services for domestic violence victims and their children.
"We want every part of the building to say 'you matter as a young person, a survivor, as a family. You matter to us and we will give you dignity and respect,'" said Carmen Pitre, Sojourner Family Peace Center president and CEO.
With 56 beds, eight bathrooms, living rooms and educational centers, a private playground and kitchens, the facility also houses a sensitive crimes unit and the district attorney's office.
"It's really critical for us to continue to give the message that it's not your fault. You deserve to be helped and you're not on your own and this center is really dedicated to giving that message," said Pitre.
The $26 million project was made possible by funds from state and local leaders, as well as private donors.
"This building is such an extraordinary testament to collaboration, to community buy-in and it's the sort of thing that should make every elected official d*** proud to live in this community," said Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele.
Sojourner and the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin serve about 1,200 domestic violence clients each year. They're ready for an increase once the center opens.
Sojourner Family Peace Center
"Centers around the country, they've seen anywhere from 15% to a 50% increase in walk-in traffic -- and I'll tell you the first week we were here, within the first four days, we had three women walk in off the bus," said Pitre.
Sojourner Family Peace Center was open for public tours all day on Thursday, February 4th.
The women and families currently living in Sojourner's shelter will move in to the new building later this month.
Once that happens, the center will be secured and no longer open to the public.