A home for dreams: Nazareth Children’s Home to dedicate new Fisher Cottage for young women this week

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 17, 2015

By Hugh Fisher

ROCKWELL – In the coming weeks, several young women will move into a new house at Nazareth Children’s Home, a place where staff members hope the girls’ dreams will become realities.

The new Fisher Cottage for young women will be dedicated January 21 at a private gathering for donors and supporters.

A separate event for the public will be held between now and March, according to staff at the children’s home.

The new cottage, dedicated in memory of Dr. Ray Richard Fisher and wife C. Ruth Lyerly Fisher, is the first new residence built at the children’s home since 2005, president and CEO Vernon Walters said.

Girls currently living in the Ketner House for young women will move into the new facility, while the Ketner house will be renovated to help the children’s home provide services, manager Nicholas Goodman said.

Goodman said the project had taken two years from conception to completion, with a budget of about $650,000 to construct the dormitory-style residence and equip and furnish it.

“We’re really excited,” Walters said of the upcoming dedication. “It’s a great opportunity to showcase what we’re doing here.”

Crucial Life Skills

Walters said the new Fisher Cottage was designed to be “very homelike, not institutional.”

The cottage will house up to six young women and two staff members.

O’Neil Walker, program manager for Nazareth’s transitional living program, said the young women in this program – who can range in age from 15 and a half to 21 – will all be enrolled in an educational program and, if possible, seeking employment.

“We teach them the individual living skills they need to live in society,” Walker said. “They’re taught how to get insurance, update their resume, apply to college or apply for a job.”

Inside the cottage, an open living room transitions into a spacious kitchen, with a fridge and stove big enough to feed the large household.

Walker said the girls will have to manage day-to-day housekeeping, including cleaning, cooking and keeping track of groceries.

Instead of the double-occupancy rooms they currently have, the new cottage has single rooms arranged in suites, much like a college dormitory.

“It’s helpful for them to be in an environment that’s similar to what their goals are,” Walker said.

“The goal is to make it feel as much like home as possible,” Goodman said.

A Nice Surprise

The girls who’ll be moving into the new cottage haven’t all had a chance to look inside yet.

Friday, Elizabeth Powell got her first peek at her new home.

Powell, who goes by Lizzie, is 19 and currently working on her high school equivalency. She said she wants to be a writer, and to run programs for young people “to keep them off the streets, away from drugs and gangs.”

Inside the cottage, most of the furnishings are in place. Lizzie Powell walked in, accompanied by Walker, and broke into a huge grin.

“This is like I’d designed my dream house to be. You know that, right?” Powell said, laughing.

Moments later, she was off down the hall to figure out which room she’d like to be hers.

Powell said she’s been a resident at Nazareth for a year and four months. She said she hopes to be able to give back to the children’s home one day, once she’s an author.

In the meantime, she said she’s excited to move in to the new cottage.

Generous Support

Goodman said that, if all goes according to plan, the girls and staff will move in about three weeks from now.

Walters said the project would not have been possible without the support of area charitable foundations, board members and individual donors.

Thanks to their generosity, the project is paid for and unencumbered by debt, said Josh Regan, director of development.

Regan said that Thursday, a state inspector visited Fisher Cottage. “She does this every day in a hundred counties, and she said this is the most beautiful cottage she’s seen,” Regan said.

“We’re so proud of this project,” Regan said. “There’s just something about this place, when you come in here, it feels like home.”

Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.