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Friday, August 19, 2022

The Butterfly Effect

For 20 years, a 12-by-12 room at the entrance of the Albion Fellows Bacon Center had doubled as an intake office, crisis call center, and storage area for the domestic violence shelter. When contractors looked at the room at 7 a.m. on a Monday in November, the bulletin boards covered with papers and the small desk crowded with overflowing binders, a computer tower, and 15-inch monitor were gone. Their mission: to transform the space into a comforting environment by following the plan from Jennifer Scales-Stewart, owner of interior design firm Y Factor Studio, and Jaima Graham, an interior designer with the company.

The following Monday, Candice Perry, Albion’s executive director, smiled inside the new office with a soothing, spa-like color palette of warm golds and cool blues. She stood by two vinyl tablet armchairs and looked at an L-shaped cherry desk with maple accents and floor-to-ceiling cabinets stretching down the south wall. Across from the cabinets is a photograph by Amy Musia, an Evansville artist, who provided the piece depicting a butterfly. The image was intentional: Like caterpillars changing into butterflies, “that’s a transformation we hope for the women who come here,” Perry says. “There’s a different life after leaving an abusive relationship.”

That transformation begins in a once-cramped, now-revamped office. “If someone is coming from a negative situation,” Graham says, “we want them to feel as comfortable as possible.” Scales-Stewart discovered that goal when she visited Albion more than a month ago. Then, Albion was among the finalists in Y Factor’s Ugliest Office competition, a chance for a local business to receive a free office makeover. During Scales-Stewart’s visit, a child staying at the shelter helped her measure the office. Another child blew Scales-Stewart a kiss as she left. “That’s when I said, ‘Albion is the one,’” says Scales-Stewart. “They need this.”

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