The Evanston/North Shore YWCA celebrated completion of its $18.5 million renovated and expanded campus with an open house and ribbon cutting this morning.

CEO and President Karen Singer said “It’s been an amazing journey and will take us into a future in which we can deepen our impact and grow the work we have been doing for decades in our community.”

Karen Singer.

The expansion includes a new four-story family support center that doubles the emergency, trauma-informed shelter capacity for survivors of domestic abuse.

A family unit in the new shelter.

It also adds much more space for community counseling, workshops, job training and education and equity and racial justice work.

A dining area in the new shelter.

Singer added “We were turning away approximately 600 women and children a year, so we needed to expand our capacity to serve women and their children with an environment that is more respectful of their autonomy and privacy.”

Sarah Malone.

Board member Sarah Malone said the expansion is “so important because the need far extends beyond what we can do. I stayed here 35 or 40 years ago. I was in an abusive relationship and it was a place of refuge. I am thrilled that we can pass this on to women and children who are experiencing the trauma of abuse. This whole thing is such an accomplishment.”

Mayor Daniel Biss said, “This is a treasure in our community and demonstrates our community’s values.”

A play area in the new shelter building.

The YWCA broke ground in April of 2020, so construction was completed during the pandemic.

Singer said that brought “challenges and opportunities. Instead of working in three phases, we were able to do everything at once and completed the project 6 to 8 months ahead of schedule.”

Barbara Freeman is an Evanston-based photographer and video producer and owner of Freeman Pictures.