Gillian’s Place is receiving a $1.5 million donation from Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Marotta family to support its new Build a Safer Future campaign.
The money will go toward the new three-storey, 9,000-square-foot Marotta Family Centre for Violence Prevention and Outreach Support.
The donation comes on the heels of a $10-million pledge by the Marottas to the campaign to build the new South Niagara Hospital.
The $8-million Gillian’s Place campaign will give Niagara 10 more shelter beds in addition to the new facility.
The centre will be an expansion of the current Gillian’s Place facility on Gibson Place in St. Catharines. It served more than 3,200 people last year.
Gillian’s Place is an organization working to end gender-based violence across Niagara.
The Marotta family’s contribution is the largest donation the agency has received since it opened in 1977, Graeme Dargavel, director of development and communications for Gillian’s Place, said in a statement to The Lake Report.
“We are honoured that we have been able to support Gillian’s Place annually, and it is our pleasure to step up in this way to ensure that women and children fleeing violent homes have the care they need and deserve,” donors Angela Marotta and Melissa Marotta-Paolicelli said in a news release.
Marotta and Marotte-Paolicelli are the sisters behind the Two Sisters Vineyards in Niagara-on-the-Lake and their father, Benny, is a major, often controversial, developer.
Two Sisters Vineyards already supports Gillian’s Place annually by donating a portion of its Margo Rosé sales.
The release said the new facility will improve the current level of trauma-related treatment provided to women, transgender individuals and children who have experienced gender-based violence.
“We are honoured that our long standing friends and supporters, Angela Marotta and Melissa Marotta-Paolicelli, and their family entrusted Gillian’s Place with this gift,” said Nicole Regehr, executive director of Gillian’s Place.
“This gift comes at a critical time in our organization’s history when calls for safety and support are at an all-time high,” she added.
Regehr said Gillian’s Place has had a 90 per cent increase across all of its programs in the past three years.
Just in the first few months of 2023, Gillian’s Place had to redirect 139 survivors, said Dargavel.
“The new centre will help us to respond to this growing need effectively,” said Regehr.
The centre will offer new outreach counselling for women who need support but not safe shelter.
According to the news release, the demand for this type of service has more than doubled since the beginning of the pandemic.
“The centre will also house expanded areas for legal advice and support, transitional housing and support, the domestic violence response initiative, community education and violence prevention programs,” the release said.
Gillian’s Place has already raised more than $5 million toward its $8 million goal.
Learn more about the new campaign at Gilliansplace.com/saferfutures.