Portraits of Peace House History: Peace House, Est. 1995

Former Peace House Shelter (1995-2019)

This year marks 25 years of Peace House serving survivors of family violence and abuse in Summit and Wasatch counties through shelter, support services, education and outreach. As part of our 25th Anniversary Year, each month we are spotlighting some of the many individuals who have shaped Peace House history. Throughout the year, we will be honoring and commemorating all those who have supported the life-saving and life-changing work that Peace House has offered our community over the past 25 years.

In the spring of 1995, Peace House shelter on Marsac Avenue in Park City opened their doors to the community. The shelter was strategically located across the street from the Park City Police Department, at a publicly undisclosed location. These safety measures provided a level of protection for survivors of domestic violence in Summit and Wasatch counties seeking refuge and support services from Peace House. The shelter accommodated four small bedrooms, a common space, a little office, and a communal kitchen. New Star General Contractors oversaw the construction of Peace House and the community offered an outpouring of support, including donated time and materials from subcontractors. 

Deer Valley donated the land for the shelter with the help of Bob Wells. The primary funding for the construction came through what was then called ICTHOS, a nonprofit housing trust that Bob Wells had recently established, which later became Mountainlands Community Housing Trust. [See Portraits of Peace House History: Bob Wells] The complicated deal between the City, Deer Valley and ICTHOS included a plan for the shelter to have two attached “transitional housing units” to be used for nightly stays by transients. It became clear almost immediately that this arrangement would not support the safety of the clients or the privacy of the shelter location. The two transitional housing units were soon absorbed into the shelter, adding an administrative office, and a larger bedroom to the shelter. Although the shelter called Peace House became an asset of Mountainlands for over a decade, it would always be run under the leadership of the Domestic Peace Task Force, which would later be known as Peace House.

The Peace House shelter arose out of the community’s response to the domestic homicide of a Summit County resident, Nadalee Noble, in 1990. The murder shocked the community and mobilized a group of impassioned residents  from Summit and Wasatch counties to form the Domestic Peace Task Force (DPTF). (See Portraits of Peace House History: Jean Paulson and Linda Hathaway) The group led the charge in raising awareness and resources to support victims of family violence and abuse. When Peace House opened, Jean Paulson, one of the original founders of DPTF, trained advocates to serve survivors inside the shelter, as well as in the community, through the newly established Victim Advocacy program. 

1995: The Need For More Staff

When Peace House opened its doors in 1995, Nancy Phillip was the first Executive Director and all other staff were volunteers. [1] Peace House shelter filled almost immediately, and there was an evident need for additional around-the-clock staffing. Teri Orr, a founding member of DPTF, went to the Park City Council and the community to seek funding to support additional staff. [2]  (See Portraits of Peace House History: Terri Orr) 

Jeannie Edens came to Peace House in 1997 after responding to an ad for a paid Shelter Advocate position. Jeannie initially offered administrative support by implementing a protocol that allowed the organization to track expenses to support Peace House grant requests. The protocol was important in raising funding to pay for expanded staff capacity and programming. Jean Paulson was running the organization’s Victim Advocacy program at the time and Jeannie soon started working with her as a victim advocate. In 1997, after receiving designated Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) and Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) grant funding to directly support the Victim Advocacy program, Jean and Jeannie moved out of the shelter and into their own small office off Bonanza Avenue in Park City. The new office gave them greater access to serve clients living in the community. Jeannie and Jean continued to serve at the shelter on a weekly basis, bringing clients into the shelter and helping clients complete protective orders. The protective orders would be filed with the court, and ensure papers were served to the respondents. Their services became invaluable to the county, and in 2000 their offices relocated into the Summit County District Attorney’s Office. [3]

Jeannie Edens recalls staff members who were active during the early days as “capable and compassionate” and credits them with creating a “heartfelt environment.” Despite Peace House’s ability to deliver services successfully, the organization was lacking in consistent oversight and leadership. Peace House went through a handful of Executive Directors in the first five years before Marcela Montemurro became the Executive Director in 2000. Marcela was part of the Latinx community and a Spanish speaker with years of experience in shelter advocacy and services. Prior to becoming the Executive Director at Peace House, Marcela was employed by the YWCA in Salt Lake City for eleven years. She stepped into the position of leadership at Peace House during a time when the organization had fallen into, what she describes as, “a serious financial situation.” Marcela  recounts that she and a board member at the time both put their assets up against a loan so that the organization could afford to pay the staff. With expanded fundraising and rigorous accounting, they were able to right the ship and the organization continued moving forward, while still growing their programming to meet the community’s needs. Marcela also played an important role in expanding domestic violence education and awareness in local schools and the community. [4] 

In 2001, during Marcela’s tenure, Cynthia Sandoval moved from Louisiana to Park City, just up the street on Marsac Avenue from Peace House. Cynthia reached out to her new neighbors who had, as she described, “like minded bumper stickers on their cars.” She knocked on the door without realizing that the neighboring “Little Red House,” as the shelter had become fondly known as, was a domestic violence shelter. Staff who answered the door explained to Cynthia that the home was managed by the Domestic Peace Task Force, to which she responded that she was a trained child therapist and would love to become involved. After several security screenings and forty hours of advocate training required to work with children, Cynthia joined Peace House as a volunteer child advocate and stayed for the next eighteen years. Cynthia later became a paid child advocate providing support to hundreds of children passing through Peace House, through case management, support groups and later counseling, once Peace House received state licensing to provide clinical therapy. Cynthia’s progression within Peace House is reflective of many staff members who started as volunteers with a passion for the mission and ultimately came on as staff, or remained long-term committed volunteers.   

2004: Jane Patten Becomes Executive Director

2004 marked an important year for Peace House as the organization adopted new leadership which yielded long-term, positive impact. That year, the Executive Director at the time, Renee Wood, moved Peace House administrative offices outside the shelter into offices on Sidewinder Drive in Park City. The move allowed for the expansion of programs but the separation of staff sometimes caused a disconnect in employee cohesion. Although Renee did not stay long at Peace House, one of her last hires was Jane Patten whom she hired as Office Manager for the new administrative offices. When Renee left Peace House in the fall of 2004, Jane became Executive Director and excelled in that capacity for the next thirteen years. The continuity and stability that Jane provided the organization for over a decade was critical and allowed her to take Peace House to the next level, by developing services, resources and relationships in the community.

In 2004 Peace House hired another valuable asset to the organization, Laura Grimaldo, known throughout the community as Pepe. Pepe was hired as the Education and Outreach Coordinator, a role that took her to individuals’ homes, schools, and other community organizations. [5] Pepe literally met people where they were at, and was able to support survivors in their shared mother tongue of Spanish. Pepe also supported Spanish speaking clients at the shelter, helping them develop safety plans, connecting them to resources and assisting them in filling out protective orders. Pepe met a critical need in her support of the Latinx community, through her passion for the mission, common language and cultural understanding. With Jane Patten’s support, Pepe established a Legal Advocacy program at Peace House, which she continues to lead today, as Peace House’s longest continuous staff member. 

Karen Koerselman, a licensed professional counselor, served as a volunteer at the shelter facilitating support groups before being hired as Shelter Director in 2005. Karen contributed her ability to organize and oversee new processes, procedures and policies to streamline shelter operations. Karen hired Jessica Wall to serve as Shelter Advocate and then Volunteer Coordinator, and she filled those vital positions for seven years. Jessica provided leadership and direction to one of the organization’s essential programs and assets: volunteers.

Founded by compassionate and committed volunteers, Peace House has always relied on volunteers to provide support to clients, mission and staff. The need for volunteers grew as the organization balanced increased programming for clients and the consequent growing administrative needs and expanded budget. Thousands of volunteers over the last twenty-five years have contributed their time, talents and skills in a variety of capacities. Volunteers like Marilyn Boschetto served weekly as a volunteer advocate answering calls, working with clients, and doing whatever was needed inside the shelter. Kathy Churilla came weekly and took over the task of managing shelter donations. Both these women consistently came to Peace House for over fifteen years. Gentlemen like the Elks Club and Lions Club leader, Craig Cooper, and John Davis, former Chicago restaurateur, also had their designated days and tasks. Craig has come every Friday to the shelter for almost 25 years, purchasing groceries and specialty items for shelter clients and hosting an annual holiday party for shelter families at the Elk’s Club. John Davis has come every Thursday at 1 p.m. sharp ready to do anything that is needed, earning him the name “The Thursday Volunteer.” These are just a few examples of the  many individuals and organizations that have consistently offered their time and support over the years, helping to sustain Peace House through its ups and downs.

2006: Developing a Strategic Plan and a Vision for the Future

In 2006, Jane Marantz became the Board Chair. Jane Patten was growing into her role as Executive Director and was open to the leadership the new Board Chair was ready to offer the organization. Marantz brought her experience working with startups to provide “next steps” for Peace House to mature as an organization. Jane Marantz organized a Board retreat, which produced a robust five year Strategic Plan and a Strategic Action Plan to implement the goals for year one. The plan included clarifying the name of the organization as Peace House and branding Peace House with a new logo. The plan also included a goal to purchase the shelter from Mountainlands, as well as a directive to expand Board membership and create an Advisory Council. The most ambitious objective was to develop a plan to expand the shelter to enable Peace House to effectively serve more survivors. With strong leadership in place, Peace House was moving forward boldly at every level of the organization.

The organization continued to hire and develop valuable staff. Emily Bench was employed as a Case Manager in 2007 and stayed on for eight years. Jessica Gray, who considered Emily one of her mentors, describes Emily as having touched many lives through her “beautiful way of connecting with people where they never felt less than or judged.” Emily recalls an important lesson that she was taught by another Peace House advocate, Antje Rath: “It is not our job to give [clients] the answers, but ask questions so that they can know what they want in their life.” Coming from a place of support rather than control was a philosophy Emily promoted and that had proven to be effective. She continued to support clients beyond their stay at the shelter. One survivor Emily served in the shelter in 2011 recalls that when she left Peace House after 30 days, Emily gave her a personal note of encouragement that she continues to go back and read. Many Case Managers and Advocates at Peace House have had this kind of impact on their clients. The emphasis on survivor-centered support became part of a larger paradigm shift in the organization in 2012. 

Trauma Informed Care: a Paradigm Shift

In 2012 Colleen Fordyce attended the 2nd World Domestic Violence Coalition Summit in Washington D.C. As the Shelter Director at Peace House, Colleen represented the Summit County and the Utah Domestic Violence Coalitions. Colleen came back to Utah with a whole new perspective on how Peace House could best support survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault or any other trauma. She introduced trauma informed care to Peace House, which fundamentally changed how shelter staff provided services to clients. Colleen described the change as moving from serving clients within the parameters of the shelter’s set protocols to connecting with clients based on their specific needs. Emily Bench remembers how significant this change was in her job as a Case Manager. She felt that the philosophical and programmatic shift freed her to truly support clients in healing rather than expending energy around enforcing shelter rules. The new approach allowed Emily to have a greater impact during the limited time she spent with clients in shelter.

Trauma informed care also overflowed into policies implemented at the shelter. Peace House would often let survivors share rooms to allow for additional residents. Upon realizing that the arrangement was potentially compounding the client’s trauma, Peace House changed the shelter policy to placing only one family unit in one room. The shelter staff realized this would limit the number of clients they could serve, but it would increase the quality of client care. It was a challenging decision because Peace House was already redirecting hundreds of clients each year because of a lack of space. The shift confirmed the long-term goal to significantly expand the Peace House shelter.

2007: Peace House Purchases the Shelter and Pursues Opportunities to Expand 

In 2007, Peace House purchased the shelter on Marsac Avenue from Mountainlands, with the help of Bob Dillon, a well respected real estate lawyer in Park City, and Bob Wells, a seasoned developer and long time friend of Peace House. The two Bobs then joined an exploratory committee to investigate options that would allow an expansion of the shelter Peace House now owned. This small group later joined a larger group of committed, connected, and skilled individuals who together became the Peace House Facilities Committee. The Committee was led by Jim Smith, who would serve as Committee Chair for 10 years, with regular oversight and approval by Jane Patten and the Executive Committee at Peace House. Their goals were to find a piece of land and the necessary funding to expand the shelter and extend the reach of Peace House services. 

The immense effort involved in seeking land and funding opportunities was happening as the existing shelter continued to serve clients and the organization was growing programming and services. In 2014, Peace House asked Jessica Gray to fill a newly created role as Program Director to provide oversight and cohesion to the ongoing programmatic growth. The Peace House Education Director Betsy Ricks had been developing relationships with the four school districts of Summit and Wasatch counties and began expanding the Prevention Education and Awareness curriculum. In 2014 Peace House launched the Clinical Therapy program with the on-boarding of the first Clinical Director, Chelsea Robinson. The Clinical Therapy program would come to provide counseling to survivors and promote holistic healing. Clinical services at Peace House are offered to survivors inside and outside the Shelter program free of charge. Partnerships continued to develop with law enforcement and with other community partners who support families impacted by trauma, including the Children’s Justice Center, People’s Health Clinic and the Park City Hospital.  

Committees Provide Direction for the New Community Campus

Amidst busy daily operations, Peace House began to prepare for a move into a new space that would allow all programming and departments to operate under one roof, including Shelter, Outreach, Education and Awareness, Clinical Therapy, Case Management, Volunteers, and Development. Members of staff, the community and the Board served on committees and offered their varied insights and invaluable experiences to ensure that the new expanded shelter would meet the needs of survivors. Experienced staff members like Kate Stone, Jessica Gray, and Jane Patten provided perspectives that were complemented by career professionals, such as Project Engineer Sharon Mardula. Through their efforts and reflections, spaces were sketched and imagined that would offer healing and safety to anyone seeking help at Peace House.

The organization’s ambitious vision for the future, first recorded as part of the 2007 Strategic Plan, was realized at the groundbreaking of the new Peace House Community Campus in the summer of 2017. The new Peace House Executive Director, Kendra Wyckoff, was introduced to the community shortly after that groundbreaking ceremony and stepped in to lead the growing organization. Kendra has eighteen years of experience working in the field of victim advocacy and support services and was tasked with the job of transitioning Peace House from the little red house on Marsac, which was no larger than 4000 square feet, to the new 42,000 square foot Community Campus. Jane Patten retired six months prior but remained committed to the project and continued to serve on the Thrive Capital Campaign Committee and the Facilities Committee.

September 2019: Peace House Community Campus Opens 

In September of 2019, the first shelter clients moved into the Emergency Shelter in the new Peace House Community Campus. The new disclosed location on Round Valley Drive, next to the Park City Hospital, brought the public health issue of domestic violence out of the shadows and access to resources for domestic violence survivors into the light. “Out of the Shadows and Into the Light” was the tagline for Peace House’s twelve million dollar Thrive Capital Campaign. The Thrive Campaign was successful in raising awareness and the necessary funding to pay for a new home for Peace House. 

The new Emergency Shelter has expanded from five bedrooms to eight units, with adjoining rooms to better serve more families of various sizes. The campus also includes twelve transitional housing units that allow for up to twelve families to stay on campus and receive additional support services from six months up to two years. The new facility was built to allow for childcare, play areas, support groups and residential communal gatherings. On the west side of the campus, the Clinical Therapy wing includes offices for counseling, legal advocacy, case management and group learning, along with a food pantry that supports Emergency Shelter and a boutique that offers clients necessary clothing if they arrive at the shelter with nothing. The organization’s Administrative offices, the Education and Outreach offices and a large Community Room are located on the east side of the campus and are utilized for anything from fundraisers to advocate trainings.

A Community Effort

The move to the new campus was the culmination of countless hours and years of committee work by staff, Board and community members. Thousands of volunteer hours helped facilitate the transition, and millions of dollars were contributed by those who believed in the mission and vision of Peace House.  

Peace House has a legacy of community engagement. The shelter and programs have been supported and sustained by the community for twenty-five years. Committed staff, Board members, committee members, community partners and coalitions, church groups, civic groups, local, state, and federal government partners, volunteers, and donors collectively constitute what Peace House respectfully calls “their community” and have played a critical role in helping the organization be where it is today. During challenging times, Peace House supporters have always stepped up and offered Peace House whatever is needed. Peace House would not be here today without them or their financial support. 

It is impossible to name all those who have offered their support to the organization since its inception. Peace House sincerely thanks everyone who has stood with the organization over the past twenty-five years. Together they have saved and improved the lives of thousands of individuals and families through shelter, support, education and services. Peace House is humbled and grateful for this responsibility and the continuous support of their community. 

Researched and Written by Karen Marriott

Edited by Julie Marriott and Lisa Jackson

1* Nancy Philip 

2* Teri Orr, Fundraising

3* Jeannie Edens, Victim Advocacy Program

4* Marcela Montemurra, Education Programs

5* Pepe Grimaldo, Education and Outreach Coordinator

Photo Summary: Jim Smith (Facilities Committee Chair, 2010-present), Jane Patten (Former Executive Director, 2004-2017), Karla Knox (Finance Committee 2010-2020), Bob Dillon (Facilities Committee Member 2010-present) signing  land agreement for new Peace House campus  (2015). Marcela Montemurro (Executive Director of Peace House, 2001-2003). Colleen Fordyce and her daugher (Shelter Director and Staff Member at Peace House, 2001-2004/2007-2014). Joel Monreal (Shelter Director, early 2000s). Kendra Wyckoff, current Executive Director, cuts ribbon at the opening of the new Peace House Community Campus (September 21, 2019). Current Emergency Shelter Dining Area (2020).  Former Shelter Dining Area (1995-2019) Staff Debra Ayer and Jessica Wall in Shelter Office (2014).