Lila Smith Safe House of Fort Stockton One Step Closer to Opening Day

Lila Smith Safe House of Fort Stockton One Step Closer to Opening Day

FORT STOCKTON, TX (KWES) - It's a project six years in the making.

In just a couple of months, Fort Stockton will have a place to shelter victims of sexual and domestic abuse, called the Lila Smith Safe House.

Lila Smith was a rancher from Fort Stockton. She lived to be 105. Before she died, she told her granddaughter, "I want my money to go to the women of Pecos and Terrell counties". When the granddaughter heard about this new project, she knew what to do.

Fort Stockton is no exception to domestic and sexual violence.

"In the past 18 months, we've answered over 500 domestic-related calls. Not saying those were all arrests, but those were all form of domestic relation," said Lt. Lisa Tarango of the Fort Stockton Police Department.

Tarango, with the help of Dorman Herman of First Response Ministries, decided to do something to help victims of domestic and sexual violence in their community.

"I said you know it's not right that kids have to be taken out of their home and sent out of the county," said Herman.

At the moment, victims need to be transported to Midland, Odessa or Alpine for shelter.

"We didn't have a location, unless we were to put them up for a night in a hotel, which is not as secure as what we're going to be offering with a safe house," said Tarango.

They were awarded a grant, and given generous donations by local residents. That planted the seed for this project to grow.

Inmates from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice helped build the facility, with more than 2500 hours of labor into the safe house.

"They laid the tile, they painted the walls. They're excellent workers," said Herman.

Even local hotels provided sheets and blankets, in a facility built by locals and maintained by volunteers.

"As long as you involve the community in it, they feel like they have a part of it," said Herman.

The safe house will have security and provide a short-term solution to victims. During their stay, volunteers will help them find a safe, permanent solution.

"Whether it's legal aid, housing, any type of care that they might need after care. After taken out of the situation where they're at," said Tarango.

This facility is also a "green" building. They plan to help families who might get stranded on the interstate as well.

The Lila Smith Safe House is expected to open before Christmas.