POV’s Big Move To A Brave Space
By Patti Giggans, Executive Director/CEO & Cathy Friedman, Associate Director Emeritus and Special Projects Manager
The first question is: Who moves in the midst of a pandemic?
The easy answer is: We do!
The next question is: Why? That undertaking sounds absolutely crazy!
To understand the “why,” we must acknowledge the growth of the past decade in our wonderful space at 1015 Wilshire Boulevard. In those 10 years, our client population expanded significantly, as did the size of our staff. We were forced into sharing desks and phones, and staff (including CEO Patti) had to vacate their offices periodically to make room for private counseling sessions. And then there was the issue of meetings and training sessions… double bookings in the same room could, unfortunately, happen upon occasion. We had completely outgrown our space and, on top of that, available parking downtown had all but disappeared. The lease was ending and we had to accommodate our staff and volunteers and the demands for more services from the community.
With help from real estate broker Ron Burkhardt, now a POV Board member, we began the search for a new, larger location, and we found a great, open space in a building nearby at 1541 Wilshire Boulevard. We signed the lease on our new Metro headquarters on November 1, 2019, with the intention of occupying the entire third floor for offices and most of the first floor for our Children & Youth Center. Rodney Stone and Kristina Musni of ENV Architects worked with us to design a customized office/counseling/meeting space. Our new site has 30% more space and abundant parking, and we were so excited by the prospect of a larger Metro headquarters.
Then, just as construction on the site was underway, the pandemic hit in early 2020. We created a Move Project team (we like teamwork at POV), led by Cathy and staff members Omar, Yvette, Quiana and two Board members, which worked closely with Edwin Grigorian from the building’s owner SEIU, ENV architects, and the contractor, Sergey Milovanov from ECCLA. We all met weekly for updates and explanations of delays! As you might imagine, there were many delays—COVID-19-related and others. By Thanksgiving 2020, the remodel was complete, and on December 1, 2020, we “moved in.”
Well, not quite “in.” Our brand-new office has eight counseling rooms, a “rest and restore” room, a large conference room, Board room, a staff lounge, and seating for 55 staff and interns on the third floor, and an enlarged Children & Youth Center—home to our youth violence prevention services—on the first floor. But our new headquarters is currently empty of people. Staff continues to work remotely until we get cleared to enter our brand-spanking-new headquarters safely. We can’t wait for this pandemic to be over, to be rid of COVID-19, and to be able to gather in person once again.
Our new space is beautiful and full of light, and curated to be sensitive to the trauma and transformative healing work that we will do there. We think it will be as welcoming to survivors, their families and the community as our old premises were (you will have to take our word on that for now)! The furniture is new, fiber and phones are new, TVs, appliances, and copy machines are new. The project, in fact, is nominated for a Community Engagement Award from the Los Angeles Business Journal. We suppose that they are impressed we were BRAVE enough to move in a pandemic!
Speaking of BRAVE, we have focused this move around creating a Brave Space. So, not only did we find and design a new space, we had to fund it! We established the Brave Space Capital Campaign to raise the money to make it all happen…amid a pandemic! Why Brave Space? A brave space is more than a physical space; a brave space is a practice where we come together to provide a supportive environment that allows for connection, healing and sharing. The goal of brave space is to create inclusive environments that can achieve transformation and social justice.
We are closing in on our fundraising goal to support our new Brave Space, but we still have a way to go. We are so grateful to the foundations and donors who have supported us, and there are still opportunities to support the completion of this project. No donation is too small or too large. Our brand-new headquarters will be a Brave Space for survivors, children, youth, families--a gift to our community. We can’t wait to be there!
We are looking toward a not-too-distant future when we can be together in person again. In the meantime, please don’t forget to keep washing your hands, keep six feet of distance, wear your masks, and stay safe!