Gillian’s Place to open third location in Grimsby
Homes by DeSantis donates space in Grout-Nelles heritage houseNEWS Jan 24, 2020 by Luke Edwards Grimsby Lincoln News
Gillian's Place will be opening a new location in Grimsby, after Homes by DeSantis donated the main floor of the Grout Nelles house to the organization. In the photo is Homes by DeSantis president Gabe DeSantis and Gillian's Place executive director Tanja Loeb. - Luke Edwards/Torstar
A house with a long and important historical significance in Grimsby will be the future home of Gillian’s Place.
While it’s still a few years out, executive director Tanja Loeb said the new site, which will complement existing locations in Beamsville and St. Catharines, is a much-needed addition to the organization. The Grimsby location will give women and children a space closer to home where they can turn for help.
“For the last few years, it’s really come to our attention that there’s such a great need in West Niagara,” she said. “It’s so much more accessible for clients when they don’t need to come to see us, when we can go to them.”
“We feel in a smaller community there may be less opportunities for immediate (help),” said Gabe DeSantis, president of the company.
Loeb said DeSantis, his family, and the company has been strong supporters of Gillian’s Place. DeSantis was an ambassador for the organization’s Walk a Mile in Her Shoes fundraiser.
“Their heart, Gabe’s; Homes by DeSantis’; and his wife and family; their heart is really aligned with ours,” Loeb said.
Exactly what will be offered in the new space has yet to be determined, Loeb said. They should, however, be able to provide a range of supports as well as connect women and children to other agencies that can help, she added.
With limited transportation options in West Niagara, Loeb said it’s difficult for women and children in Grimsby to get to St. Catharines or even to Beamsville. It’s an added challenge when those who need help often have to search it out in secrecy. She said it’s not safe to meet in a woman’s home, and past practice of meeting in coffee shops or at public buildings like libraries isn’t ideal either.
Loeb assures the public the Beamsville location will stay open. She said they’re grateful for the support they receive from Trinity United Church, which provides the Beamsville space.
The house was built by James Willison Grout Nelles in 1865. It was designated a heritage site but has fallen into disrepair. Homes By DeSantis purchased the property, cleared out the brush, then and secured and mothballed the home.
“We will be restoring it to its former glory,” DeSantis said, adding they’ll be keeping the heritage beech tree nearby and also building a courtyard out front. The developers have a mid-rise condo proposal for the rest of the property.