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SAN CLEMENTE : Battered Women's Shelter to Open


After nearly two years of charity fashion shows, golf tournaments and grass-roots fund-raising, the city's first shelter for battered women is ready to open.

Laura's House will be dedicated today at 4 p.m. at a City Hall ceremony in which "we'll be celebrating a great year of [fund-raising] success," said Sandy Condello, the shelter's executive director.

Condello said that in addition to donations that helped get the shelter started, Laura's House last week received a $420,000 grant under the Battered Women's Protection Act of 1994, signed into law by Gov. Pete Wilson after the death of Nicole Brown Simpson last June. O.J. Simpson, who is standing trial in Los Angeles on murder charges stemming from the stabbing deaths of Brown and her friend Ronald Lyle Goldman, pleaded no contest to spousal battery in 1989.

The funding will help cover 25 months of operating expenses for the 16-bed shelter, which will be housed in a renovated duplex and cost about $300,000 a year to run, Condello said. The shelter, which will also provide walk-in counseling and referral services, will be ready for occupancy in about two weeks, she said.

"It's been a fantastic year," said Beth Apodaca, director of public relations for Laura's House. "We have been so lucky to have had so many committed volunteers."

Two other shelters in Orange County also received grants under the act. South County-based Human Options received $160,000 to help expand its operations into Irvine.

Interval House, which operates three shelters in the county, was awarded two grants totaling about $332,000. Those grants will be used for a legal referral project for battered women and for a demonstration project to train victims of abuse in public speaking, so they can become advocates of battered women.

"We put our hearts and souls into these grants," said Carol Williams, executive director for Interval House. "Every single volunteer worked to get this funding. We're thrilled that we got it."

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