Keeping a roof over their heads

The timing could not have been better. A donor contacted the YWCA of Walla Walla ready to make a major gift. He was looking for a special project that would meet a significant need at the YW, something with a big impact.

Executive Director Anne-Marie Zell Schwerin knew just the thing: A new roof for the women’s shelter.

The shelter underwent substantial renovations in 2000, but at that time, the roof still had years of life. It didn’t make sense to replace 6,500 square feet of useful roof. Now, however, the roof has seen 33 winters and is starting to show its age. “What could be more important right now than protecting the integrity of the shelter with a new roof?” asked Schwerin. “When I think of how many will sleep under that roof tonight and how many have been and will be protected by that roof in the future, I can’t think of a more appropriate gift.”

Fortunately for the shelter, Michael Murr, who grew up in Walla Walla and continues to have ties to our valley through his family-owned Garrison Creek Cellars, was open to whatever project the YWCA decided to undertake with his gift. “Our family has been so happy and impressed with the management and leadership of the YWCA that we violated our own guidelines by giving unrestricted funds,” said Murr.

Replacing the mid-century-style flat roof will be a big project. The base of the roof is concrete, and all material on top of the concrete must be removed. This will require a stretch of dry weather, which can be hard to come by during Walla Walla winters.

The existing material will be replaced with a new rubber membrane and a layer of 60-millimeter-thick rigid insulation with an energy-efficient R-30 rating. Gillespie Roofing, the contractor, anticipates completing the work before Christmas.

A portion of the funds will go to providing more child-friendly space for children in the shelter. The specifics are still under wraps, but the Murr family looks forward to helping recognize a very special friend of the YW.

“Our family has always been inspired by the work the YWCA does for the victims of domestic violence,” said Murr. “Walla Walla is fortunate to have a number of great institutions, one of which is the YWCA.”