Many cooks in the kitchen – Women’s Shelter Transition House benefits from local remodeling experts

0040Sometimes “too many cooks in the kitchen” proves to be a good thing.

    When Keri Halberg, member of the Rochester Area Builders (RAB) and Remodelers Council Executive Committe, learned that the Rochester Women’s Shelter Transition House could use a kitchen remodel, she suggested the project to the board.

    The rest is history as contractor Mike Hortop of Aspen Enterprises, Jessica Curry from Tile Superstore & More, Dave Reynolds of Reynolds Design and Construction and a team of more than 25 members of RAB volunteered time and materials to give the Transition House a much needed, total kitchen re-do.

    “The Council is always looking for projects in the community,” says John Eischen, RAB executive director. “Even amidst the challenges and the effects on businesses the industry has faced in recent years, RAB members continue to help others in greater need. We have good people in our industry.”

    The Transition House was originally built as a rooming house for resident physicians in 1903. The Women’s Shelter acquired the house in 1984. Up to 11 single women, either homeless or fleeing domestic violence, now call it “home” as they transition from shelter to independent living.

    “It’s a place for them to reside for up to two years as they become physically, emotionally and financially secure,” says Chris Round, facility coordinator. “Without this interim environment, there’s a chance they could return to where they’d been.”

    The average stay is about one year while many finish their previously-started college degrees and obtain employment.

Gaining space

This was the stately dwelling’s first kitchen remodel of significant magnitude as the kitchen was gutted to the basic framework. As a result, everything from new plumbing, electrical and drywall was required.

    A partial wall and bathroom were removed to gain additional space. This resulted in a pantry with floor-to-ceiling shelves and a utility sink.

    “The shelves are great because they hold large baskets labeled with either ‘House,’ meaning contents for everyone’s use, or each resident’s name and containing her individual food and products,” says Chris. “This works well because it cuts down on the need to put everything in the cupboards and there’s less confusion.”

    New vinyl flooring has replaced the former aged and uneven floor. Custom cupboards, done in a dark walnut, match the finish of the molding throughout the house. And the commercial side-by-side refrigerator, as well as a smaller refrigerator, is now enclosed giving a built-in appearance. The remodeling team even found space to accommodate a small counter and two stools, the perfect spot for a visit or snack.

    New paint, lighting, faux granite-like countertops, sink, faucet and appliances—black and stainless steel microwave, dishwasher, stove and exhaust—completed the remodel.

Communal cooking

“The kitchen is fabulous and we turn out some great meals here,” says “Grannie,” one of the residents. “On Sundays after church we cook and sit down in the dining room and we all eat together. About three of us cook at the same time doing entrees and baking. I am so grateful to be able to be in this wonderful, wonderful place.”

    Funding for the Transition House (the first of its kind in Minnesota) comes from state and federal grants as well as donations from the community. “However, since current grants will not pay for repairs or maintenance, we fall short in funding those expenses,” says Suzie Christenson, executive director. “The donation from the Remodeler’s Council to redo the kitchen is exactly what the home needs.”

Penny Marshall is a Rochester freelance writer.