Warm Zone finds a new home in Abbotsford

The women's drop-in centre secured a location accessible to the city's downtown core

Michele Giordano

Michele Giordano

The Warm Zone drop-in centre for women has found a new home.

Staff and volunteers have packed up and moved from the old location on McCallum Road, and have set up at their new place.

Warm Zone co-ordinator Michele Giordano did not want to disclose the location, because of clients’ safety concerns, but said it is accessible to the downtown core.

She said the site is zoned for the work the Warm Zone does, is about twice the size of the current location, and allows for a year-to-year lease.

“We’re really, really excited … I was feeling full of dread imagining the Warm Zone closing,” Giordano said.

The Warm Zone is operated by the Women’s Resource Society of the Fraser Valley. Executive director Dorothy Henneveld said partial services will be offered at the new location by the end of the week.

Henneveld said the stand-alone building was found as part of the society’s search to find a new site available for lease. The final paperwork was signed on Thursday.

The drop-in centre is open to “street entrenched” women, providing a place where they can escape the dangers of the streets, get a meal, take a shower, do laundry and access services.

Giordano said finding a new location was a challenge.

The centre had to be out of its former building by Sept. 30 after the landlord asked them to leave.

But Giordano said most landlords required the signing of a three- to five-year lease – something the Warm Zone couldn’t do, because of uncertainty about its annual funding situation.

Another factor was trying to find a location that was in the proper zoning and close to other services, such as the Salvation Army and Abbotsford Community Services. The new site meets all the criteria.

The Warm Zone was also facing uncertainty about its funding situation, but Henneveld said it looks like two essential grants will be approved to keep the facility running for another year.

The new building is in need of renovations, including a full kitchen and a bathroom with a shower.

Henneveld and Giordano hope that donations of skilled labour and materials will help fulfill those requirements. Anyone who can help can call 604-820-8455 and leave a message for Michele.