‘Healing campus’: Hamilton County secures site for new Prevail domestic violence shelter


A site has been selected for the future Prevail of Central Indiana domestic violence shelter, and it’s everything Hamilton County officials and Prevail staff hoped for, with ample space, proximity to nature and temporary housing solutions for those seeking shelter.

Hamilton County recently purchased an 8-acre parcel for the shelter on the south side of Ind. 38 between Hague and River roads in Noblesville.

“It’s a beautiful setting, especially for something like this that can have a calming environment for people that are having to deal with stress and anxiety from having a traumatic thing happen to them like a domestic abuse,” Hamilton County Commissioner Mark Heirbrandt said.

Hamilton County began seeking the land in 2021, after statistics revealed eight deaths associated with domestic violence were reported in 2020, compared to none the previous year. The figure prompted the Hamilton County Council to approve $14,000 for design of a domestic violence shelter, an idea that’s been discussed — but not funded — for more than 20 years. RQAW, a Fishers engineering and architectural firm, is designing the facility.

Prevail, which offers crisis intervention and restorative support services for adult, adolescent and child survivors of crime and abuse, is leasing a building at 1100 S. Ninth St, Suite 100, Noblesville, from Luke Kenley for roughly $80,000 a year. If a client required temporary housing, they would have to be sent to a domestic violence shelter in Madison County or Marion County because Prevail currently doesn’t have housing available. Sometimes, Prevail funds hotel stays for clients in need of shelter. But that could change by fall 2023 when the new shelter is expected to open.

“We want to create an environment that is very friendly and keeps families together and creates a structure that’s more beneficial in helping them to heal and have a better healing process,” Heirbrandt said.

Heirbrandt said the land cost $500,000. Roughly $5 million is budgeted for the project. Prevail Executive Director Melinda Konrath-Fielding said shelter will have family bedrooms, outdoor and space for activities, among other amenities.

“We really want to be able to maximize the space for clients. The building will have a lot of multi-use spaces in them,” Konrath-Fielding said. “For instance, a good example is, one thing I would really like to have is a commercial kitchen where we could have a nutritionist come in and talk about cooking, or how to cook on budget and how to maximize food stamp benefits, or how to cook healthy meals using food stamps. Those are things we weren’t able to think about and incorporate in previous renderings.”

Konrath-Fielding, a Westfield resident, said the building will facilitate holistic therapies.

“It is a beautiful plot of land, and nature is going to be a huge part of it,” she said. “I think we’re going to have a really neat campus that allows us to have unique services to help victims through healing from trauma.”

Heirbrandt said the county has an “aggressive” schedule for the project and expects to break ground in the next five or six months. The shelter is expected to open a year after it breaks ground. It’s not certain what Prevail will contribute financially when the project is complete.

“The county will own the building and we will lease to Prevail,” Heirbrandt said. “We haven’t worked out the details yet. We are hoping to finalize them here in the next couple of weeks. We are all really excited about it because it’s something we have talked about for a lot of years. To be able to collaborate with our council and be able to have everybody be on board and agree that these services are desperately needed in our county, it makes you feel good that we are fulfilling this need.”

A new leader

Melinda Konrath-Fielding joined Prevail March 7 as its new executive director. She previously served as executive officer and president of Child and Parent Services of Elkhart. She also served as chief executive officer of Northern Indiana Maternal & Child Health Network in South Bend and as director of nursing for the St. Joseph County Health Dept.

Konrath-Fielding is a graduate of IU-South Bend. For more, visit prevailinc.com.


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