Jay Johnson, superintendent at Blazy Construction, talks with LeeShore Center Executive Director Cheri Smith about the renovation to the center’s kitchen Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 at the center in Kenai, Alaska. (Megan Pacer/Peninsula Clarion)

Jay Johnson, superintendent at Blazy Construction, talks with LeeShore Center Executive Director Cheri Smith about the renovation to the center’s kitchen Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 at the center in Kenai, Alaska. (Megan Pacer/Peninsula Clarion)

LeeShore among shelters to get help with maintenance

The LeeShore Center in Kenai has been cooking up some major improvements for the women and children who stay there — namely, its kitchen.

The domestic violence shelter is one of 17 in Alaska getting some help to address deferred maintenance issues with its building. Funding for these improvements came through the Statewide Domestic Violence Shelter Improvements Initiative, a $4 million project funded by the state and other donors, according to the Alaska Community Foundation’s website. Funding from the state was matched by the Rasmuson Foundation and other organizations, with the Alaska Community Foundation serving as the project’s fiscal sponsor.

Beginning in 2015, each of the 17 shelters on the list to benefit from the funding were surveyed during a pre-development program to take stock of their condition and prioritize what to fix, said Cheri Smith, the executive director of the LeeShore Center. The surveys were focused on identifying what problems presented the greatest threats to safety, she said.

“Most of the shelters are long term — you know, they’ve been there forever,” Smith said. “Our agency opened in ‘85, so what’s that, 31 years. The conditions in some of the shelters has been kind of problematic.”

Securing funding on a shelter-to-shelter basis for capital projects and maintenance can be difficult, Smith said, as most of a shelter’s money is strictly tied up in operational costs.

During the condition survey at LeeShore, it was determined the kitchen needed the most attention. When it’s finished, the facility will have a new ceiling and floors, a new three-part sink, a larger island, an updated freezer area and additional cabinets. LeeShore is also getting a renovated laundry room and some work done on the front door alarm system.

The kitchen was last updated in the mid-2000’s, Smith said, and that was to re-do the cabinets.

Construction was slated to last just over a month, with the floors taking a few extra weeks to set before being finished. Keeping the shelter’s occupants fed during this project was looking like a challenge until Verizon stepped in, Smith said.

“When we shut out kitchen down for a month or more … people kind of take care of their breakfasts … they can make sandwiches for lunch, but there’s no way for us to do hot meals in the evening,” she said.

The Verizon Foundation hopped in on the shelter improvement initiative and gave $25,000 in grant money to the Alaska Community Foundation, which was split between three organizations — one of them LeeShore — to provide a budget for hiring a caterer. Smith said LeeShore was given around $8,000 to contract Kenai Catering to bring in about 20 hot meals a night Monday through Friday for the duration of the kitchen remodel.

The catered meals have been helpful in terms of keeping women and children at the shelter dispite the construction, Smith said.

“Any time you’re doing something in the back, it’s disruptive,” she said. “This has been a really smooth process.”

Blazy Construction, Inc. got the bid for the LeeShore renovation, and also did the work on shelters in Homer and Kodiak, said Jay Johnson, superintendent at the company.

While LeeShore has been very well maintained over the years and other Alaska shelters are in worse shape, Smith said keeping up with things like a safe kitchen, a well-running laundry room and the front door’s alarm system is about more than aesthetics.

“You’re talking about the health and well being of people,” she said of the project. “… When you have women and children staying in an emergency shelter, your kitchen has to be up to date, it has to be clean, there’s got to be safety things.”

Reach Megan Pacer at megan.pacer@peninsulaclarion.com.

LeeShore among shelters to get help with maintenance

More in News

Soldotna High School senior Josiah Burton testifies in opposition to the proposed cut of Kenai Peninsula Borough School District theater technicians while audience members look on during a board of education meeting on Monday, March 6, 2023 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
School board finance group reviews expenditures ahead of upcoming budget cycle

As the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District prepares to grapple with another… Continue reading

Members of the Kenai/Soldotna Fish and Game Advisory Committee raise hands to vote in favor of a proposal during a meeting at Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, Nov. 20, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Silver salmon, personal use fishing discussed by advisory committee

The group set their recommendations on a variety of proposals to the State Board of Fisheries

Hoses pump water along Patrick Drive to help mitigate flooding near Kalifornsky Beach Road on Friday, July 21, 2023, near Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Borough spent almost $78k responding to flood events during disaster declaration

Most of the funds were spend in the northwest area of Kalifornsky Beach Road

The National Weather Service’s map shows a winter weather advisory, in orange, effective for much of the eastern Kenai Peninsula. (Screenshot)
Heavy snow, blowing winds forecast for Turnagain Pass on Wednesday

Snow accumulations of up to 16 inches are expected

The Kenai Courthouse is seen on Monday, July 3, 2023, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Grand jury adds charges in October killing of Homer woman

The indictment was delivered on Nov. 8

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Anchorage resident arrested in Nikiski after troopers investigate reports of stolen vehicle

Troopers responded to a residential address in Nikiski around 11:30 a.m. after being notified by Sirius XM that a stolen vehicle was there

Santa Claus greets Hudson Reinhardt during Christmas Comes to Kenai festivities at the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, Nov. 24, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Getting into the holiday spirit

Christmas arrives in Kenai with fireworks, Santa and a lot of rain

Kinley Ferguson tells Santa Claus what she wants for Christmas during Christmas in the Park festivities on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, at Soldotna Creek Park in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Creating a winter wonderland

Christmas in the Park to bring Santa, sleigh rides, fireworks on Saturday

Flowers bloom at Soldotna City Hall on Wednesday, June 24, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna to repair failed wastewater pipe

The pipe to be repaired discharges treated effluent into the Kenai River

Most Read