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February 21, 2014

Catholic Charities offers women sanctuary

NORMAN — Women who are struggling with homelessness in Norman will soon have a place to seek refuge and find help to overcome their situations.

A grand opening for Sanctuary II, a Catholic Charities women’s development center, was hosted Thursday night at 1100 N. Porter Ave. The facility is still in the process of being remodeled but is expected to open its doors in March.

“The facility will provide a safe place for women to come in and get off the streets, while giving them the opportunity to overcome the barriers preventing them from being successful,” said Sonny Wilkinson, Catholic Charities’ senior director for mission advancement.

The facility will only be open during the day, but it will provide case management services and link women with the resources they may need to overcome life obstacles, such as drug or alcohol addiction, to help them transition out of homelessness.

Shower and laundry facilities will be available to the women for free, as well as a computer area to help women create resumes and search for jobs, said Lisa Chamberlain, director of the Sanctuary Women’s Development Center in Oklahoma City.

The Sanctuary in Oklahoma City serves about 600 women per month. While the homeless population in Norman is somewhere around 800, Chamberlain said she’s unsure of how many women might seek out Sanctuary II’s services.

Chamberlain said they will take time to discuss immediate needs, what services Sanctuary II offers and case management with every woman who walks through the doors.

“We want to convey that they are treated with dignity and respect,” Wilkinson said.

“We meet each woman that comes through on their own level,” Chamberlain said.

Children also will be welcome at Sanctuary II, and case management will be done with them as well to help meet any needs for the child. In many cases, that will mean referring the child to another agency, Wilkinson said.

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