A domestic violence shelter serving Omaha/Council Bluffs was dedicated and blessed last night in an undisclosed location in Council Bluffs. The ten thousand square-foot facility will provide a safe haven for women and children who’re targets of domestic violence and sexual assault.Diane McKee, coordinator for the domestic violence/sexual abuse programs at Catholic Charities, says there are eight bedrooms and 24 twin beds on the upper level. The lower level is office space and rooms for counseling services. The new facility replaces a shelter that was gutted by fire in 1998. Since then, a temporary facility was used that only had seven beds. McKee says seven to ten families were turned away every month there.The new shelter is called Phoenix House, named after the Egyptian mythological bird, which is a symbol for immortality. That phoenix lived 600 years, then consumed itself in fire, only to rise again from the ashes to live another long life. McKee says the name seemed appropriate, given the fire four years ago, and also the way families in the shelter look to create a new life without violence.The shelter cost about one-point-three million dollars. Its location is being kept quiet to protect the confidentiality of prospective residents.
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