BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Dozens of state and local officials, business leaders and survivors of domestic and sexual abuse were on hand Monday as the Center for Family Justice in Bridgeport officially opened as the state’s first family justice center.
The newly renovated center is now a one-stop site for any services a victim might need — from police and prosecutors to counseling to a new wellness studio that will offer yoga, meditation and other stress-relieving activities.
“I still feel like we’re living a dream right now,” center CEO Debra Greenwood told those gathered.
The first phase of the $1.2 million renovation is now complete. Offering a range of services under one roof streamlines the way victims engage with supportive services and the criminal justice system, said Beth Fitzpatrick, marketing coordinator for the center.
“It’s really about changing the way we deliver services,” she said. “This way they can have every need met in one place.”
The milestone also means the center officially becomes one of more than 100 family justice centers around the world. Greenwood said she hopes the center will be able to both help victims and significantly reduce domestic violence homicides and other negative outcomes.
The renovations included the lower-level Bigelow Tea Wellness Studio; the Verizon Empowerment Room, which will offer a training and technology hub for clients to build employment skills; offices for police officers, prosecutors and community partners; and renovated spaces for childcare, meetings and other client services.
The State Bond Commission recently approved an additional grant of more than $470,000 to pay for phase two of the renovations, including a safer, more secure parking lot.
The plans took into account the safety and security of victims. For example, they provide space for police officers to interview victims, including children, in a less daunting place than a police station, Fitzpatrick said.
Dress for Success plans to add a satellite space for women to find clothing for job interviews and other occasions.
“It is something to behold,” said state Sen. Bob Duff (D-Norwalk). “The better this center does, the better we all do in Fairfield County.”
The Center for Family Justice serves men, women and children in Bridgeport, Fairfield, Easton, Trumbull, Monroe and Stratford. It also operates a safe house at a separate location.
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