When the YWCA Bradford recently erected a new sign on its future property site on Congress Street, they did so to let the community know “we’re still here and we’re moving forward.”

That was the word this week from Angela Erway, development and marketing director for the YW located at 24 W. Corydon St.

“This (sign) was something that was part of the process that I am still working on,” Erway said.

“We’re just letting people know that this is a future site …. obviously like everybody else we had to take a long pause in 2020 and halt all of our fundraising” due to the pandemic.

Erway added, “We still received gifts throughout the year, which was wonderful and unsolicited — and wonderful.”

The project site, which had contained the former Second Ward School, was demolished in December of 2019 to make way for the new YWCA Bradford headquarters and shelter.

Officials initially had hoped to continue on with fundraising efforts toward the construction of the building in 2021, but that all changed when the pandemic struck in March of 2020. The pandemic not only caused the shutdown of much of the economy, but also fundraising efforts for numerous nonprofits.

The original architectural plans for a 14,000 square-foot structure by Larson-Karle Associates of Warren also have been revised to reduce the square footage.

“We are currently finalizing the final floor plan … throughout COVID we have learned more about what our needs will be futuristically,” Erway explained. This includes projections on how many people may work remotely, thus reducing space requirements.

In comparison, the YW’s current home on West Corydon Street is much larger than required for ongoing needs of the people served by the agency.

“The building we’re currently in is much larger than what we need and it’s not efficient,” she continued. “The old gymnasium/auditorium space with the stage, well we don’t need all that space.”

Additionally, the current building has program areas, living accommodations and office space that is spread out throughout the structure.

“So we’re looking at a new building that will be less square footage but will be a more efficient space for us to provide services,” she added.

The updated architectural plans will include exterior shelter space for homeless individuals and domestic violence victims served by the agency.

“This is the same plan we released two years ago, just the floor plan has been adjusted,” she commented.

Erway said the YW “is reworking some numbers” regarding the cost of the structure due to escalating costs associated with supply and demand.

“The price of everything has skyrocketed, they’re seeing a 150% increase on wood products and other things,” she remarked. “We’re looking to go out for bid in early 2022 and we’re hoping by then some of the prices will have leveled out or come back to the prices we had before.”

It is hoped that ground-breaking for the project will then take place in the spring of 2022.

The agency has raised $1.2 million for the project through its capital campaign prior to the pandemic, and was awarded another $1 million grant in late December from the state’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP.) In addition, the YW continues to work with the City of Bradford and the Office of Economic Development for the RACP funding, which will continue to improve the city’s Second Ward area.

Erway said all of the project plans have had to continue while the agency saw an increased need from people who needed shelter, programming and assistance and protection for domestic violence issues.

“We continue to serve women, men and families throughout McKean County,” she stated. “In 2020 we saw an increase in need for Protection From Abuse (PFA) orders. The PFAs continue to be on the rise, even through today, as well as calls to our domestic violence line.”

She noted that in a recent two-week period, the agency received requests to help with more than 25 PFA orders, the most they’ve ever assisted with in that time frame.

There has also been an increased need for shelter requested by those dealing with domestic violence and by the homeless and those who are unemployed or under-employed.

It is for this reason that the agency welcomes any and all donations to help the program or the building project.

“The RACP funding is a tremendous boost to our fundraising, but we still need the community’s support,” Erway concluded.

For more information on helping, visit online at ywcabradford.org or contact the YW at 368-4235.

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