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Omaha Magazine

Circles of Support, Cycles of Life

Nov 21, 2018 02:42PM ● By Justine Young
A giant ‘3801’ sign—the one hanging off the sleek new headquarters of Omaha’s Women’s Center for Advancement at 38th and Harney streets—stands out against the gray brick backdrop of this recently renovated property. Bold, rounded numbers point to the nonprofit’s updated building, where they provide aid to victims of domestic abuse.

The roundness of the numbers’ font is one of the organization’s many ways of telling the public there is an ongoing cycle of violence, while the size screams “We’re here.” The oversized loops of text were so large, the WCA needed to convince the city council that the sign’s height is appropriate, despite city codes restricting its placement.

“They have to know where it is!” CEO Amy Richardson explains, referring to clients and WCA supporters alike. “It’s really important that we’re identifiable. We’re not hiding this problem.”

Walls of rectangular glass panels wrap around the eastern corner of the building, reflecting that sense of transparency as sunlight passes though them and into the curved lobby. “Light is very healing,” Richardson says, and cites a need for it as the incentive behind a custom window film used throughout the building. Patterns of opaque dots, rings, and circles balance brightness with a sense of privacy, providing a one-way mirror effect for meeting rooms.

That circular theme is built into the very heart of the WCA’s home, where a cylindrical beam sprouts from the center of the building and through the middle of the client lobby, Richardson’s favorite addition to the new digs. Halos of light hang from a curved ceiling above various seating options arranged with intention—it’s almost impossible to look at one another while sitting in them—another piece of privacy in the clients-only space.

Waves and arches loop into the ceiling of the first-floor, guiding visitors past wall embellishments made from reclaimed wood and a modern, neutral palette combined with pops of color. New additions include a clothing boutique, an emergency entrance with an attached medical clinic, and legal workshops. Director of Marketing and Public Relations Elizabeth Powers points out how these services empower victims.

Richardson credits the vision behind the space in large part to project manager Andrea Kathol. “She was the conductor of all of it.” Other key players included RDG designer Alysia Radicia and Lund Ross Construction.

Kathol says her favorite part of the project was getting to work closely with such a great team.

“And the day the doors opened—just to see how proud everybody was of what we accomplished,” she says. “To understand what this means to Omaha to have a beautiful, healthy place for victims to go.”

The organization also realizes they need a circle of donors and volunteers from the community to help provide a vast array of services, including a medical clinic, legal workshops, temporary housing, and more. As a sign of gratitude, names of those who contribute are added to their donor wall, a collage of circular wooden art showcasing dozens of supporters.

On the upper floors, open office doors show comfy puppy beds and bouquets of birthday balloons orbiting staff and volunteer spaces, all pieces of a positive workspace intended to lessen the strain of dealing with trauma on a regular basis. Their goal? To unmask this issue, to provide a safe space for those in need, and to break this cycle of violence. In its comfortable, inviting new space, the Women’s Center for Advancement works round the clock to make Omaha a safer place for all.

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This article was printed in the December 2018/January 2019 edition of B2B. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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