Several years ago, a group of friends began talking about giving women a hand up with life’s challenges.
What was needed, they agreed, was a faith-based living community for women, a place to break the cycles of abuse and poverty.
Their vision became an ambitious goal called The Gatehouse at Grapevine — a $28 million, 61-acre supportive living community designed for women in crisis and their children that would house dozens of families.
On Thursday, supporters of The Gatehouse held a grand opening and ribbon-cutting that included Gov. Greg Abbott, Grapevine Mayor William D. Tate, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings.
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“This has been a dream for so long,” said Lisa Rose, founder and board president. “The Gatehouse will be a passageway to a new beginning for these women — a safe, guarded, protected way.”
The Gatehouse will offer housing, transportation, food, education, job training, medical care, clothing, counseling and life-skills mentoring.
Abbott spoke to hundreds of well-wishers who turned out for the grand opening, thanking the supporters and saying: “It was a long time in coming. It will be here even longer.”
Abbott said an estimated two women lose their lives each week in Texas to domestic violence, adding, “No woman should be trapped in an abusive relationship.”
He thanked the people who have given their time, their heart and their soul to make a difference, exclaiming, “Awesome!”
The opening of the facility comes as domestic violence is a hot topic in North Texas. The Dallas Cowboys recently signed Greg Hardy, one of the NFL’s top pass rushers, who was convicted last summer by a judge in North Carolina on charges that he assaulted and threatened to kill his girlfriend. He appealed the charges, and they were dropped last month when the girlfriend declined to cooperate with prosecutors after receiving a financial settlement from Hardy.
A fashion show this summer by the Dallas Cowboys Women’s Association will benefit The Gatehouse.
Not a shelter, a community
The Gatehouse traces its roots to projectHandUp, an idea conceived by Rose and a small group of friends who wanted to serve other women in the community by offering hope and practical tools to face all kinds of challenges.
Their efforts led to the 2008 introduction of First Friday, a projectHandUp monthly speaker series that focuses on women’s issues. On the first Friday of each month from September to May, hundreds of women from across the Metroplex meet at Harkins Theatres in Southlake to receive wisdom and resources from local and national speakers, doctors, counselors and authors.
“First Friday is real talk, real women, real life,” Rose said. “We offer women a hand up — not a handout. We are supported by private donors and do not receive government funding. In a word, we are re-gifting what God has given us in order to love God and love others, fulfilling the greatest commandment.”
Although the project was successful, they wanted to do more.
That’s where The Gatehouse comes in.
Rose told the crowd that the goal was to develop not a shelter, but a community.
Her vision has been shared by her husband, Matt Rose, executive chairman of BNSF Railway.
Matt Rose said his wife likes to call him the “operations manager” of the project.
“My focus has been helping to raise money,” he said.
His involvement also includes enlisting friends to donate services to the project “both in the Dallas-Fort Worth area as well as outside the area.”
About 80% complete
In August 2012, Lisa Rose and her team went before the Grapevine City Council, where city leaders approved the building of The Gatehouse.
Councilwoman Darlene Freed, a supporter, lauded the efforts to make it a reality, saying that night that The Gatehouse would be “a great addition to the Grapevine community.”
On Thursday, Freed said, “It’s such a powerful moment to see something go from a vision to a reality — and it’s going to help so many people.”
Mayor Tate said he was elated to have watched the dream come to fruition, adding, “Everyone needs a little help in their life sometime.”
Ground was broken in October 2013 at The Gatehouse’s location near Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, and construction is about 80 percent complete, Rose said. The Star-Telegram is not giving its precise location because of security concerns.
The facility will eventually house up to 96 families. The first are expected to arrive in April.
“The Gatehouse will offer women compassionate relationships that foster love and dignity to support women who are ready to change their lives for the long term,” Rose said. “Changing the culture by providing women a place for healing and hope has been a vision for years, and we are committed to offering women and their children new paths to reverse the endless cycles of abuse, poverty, homelessness and helplessness.”
Each neighborhood is made up of one-, two- and three-bedroom units. Ranging from 1,000 square feet for a one-bedroom/one-bath to 1,600 square feet for a three-bedroom/two-bath, each unit provides enhanced outdoor living space overlooking the neighborhood green and adjacent units to perpetuate development of close relationships and accountability with neighbors and staff.
The Gatehouse will also include counseling centers, a community/conference center, a chapel, walking trails and commercial space.
Most women will arrive with nothing, Rose said, but will be welcome in the general store, which will provide food and household supplies.
The Keeps Boutique will offer new clothing for women, children and foster girls.
Marty Sabota, 817-390-7367
How to help
For more information about The Gatehouse, visit gatehousegrapevine.com. To “adopt a family” for one year, the cost is $35,000, which covers expenses such as education, child care, vehicles, clothing, food, supplies, counseling, furnishings and health assistance.
Benefit fashion show
The Dallas Cowboys Women’s Association is holding a charity fashion show — Fashion’s First Down — on June 4 at Starbase Jet in Addison. All proceeds will benefit programs helping women in crisis at The Gatehouse and the Nexus Recovery Center in Dallas.