Passages to break ground on new building

Passages Women’s Transitional Living is holding a groundbreaking ceremony today for Passages Place, a new facility that will expand Passages’ capacity to help women rebuild their lives.

The new Passages Place will be located at the corner of First and Denver streets, on land that was donated in 2017 to Passages by the City of Rapid City, according to Dr. Marge Beam, executive director. The $1.25 million project will house up to 14 women who are transitioning from incarceration or homelessness to independence and recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.

Currently, Passages rents a five-bedroom, two-bathroom house in a residential Rapid City neighborhood. The rental house allows a maximum occupancy of seven women, although that number was reduced to four for several months because of COVID-19 and the need for social distancing.

Dr. Don Van Etten, chairman of Passages’ board of directors, worked with the City of Rapid City, Scull Construction and JLG Architects to design the new 6,222-square-foot Passages Place. Each bedroom will house two women and have a shared bath. The residence will include housing for a resident assistant and office space for Beam. In addition, the new Passages Place will include a kitchen, dining area, common area, meeting room, storage area and garage. Beam said Scull Construction estimates Passages Place could be completed in six to eight months.

“We will also have an (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant room with a bathroom and shower. We have not been able to do that in the rental house. I’m so excited we’ll be able to do that,” Beam said.

Passages has raised more than $774,500 in cash and pledges toward the cost of its new residential facility, including a recent $300,000 grant from the Sunshine Lady Foundation and $300,000 from the John T. Vucurevich Foundation.

In addition to the land, Beam said architectural site plans and some engineering work has been donated. Scull Construction is donating dirt work, and other companies have agreed to donate some labor and supply some materials at cost.

“We’re so grateful. There’s too many people even to list that have made this possible for us, with a lot of volunteers and donors and hearts put into this,” Beam said.

Founded in 2008, Passages provides a safe, supportive environment for women who are newly out of incarceration or homelessness. Women can live in the Passages house while they spend six to 18 months in the program. The women accepted to the program come from the South Dakota Women’s Prison, the Pennington County Jail, Pennington County Drug Court program, treatment centers and the Cornerstone Rescue Mission. More than 140 women have gone through the program so far.

Passages is the only faith-based transitional program for women in western South Dakota, Beam said. Passages incorporates Bible study, work, community service and education to help women become physically and emotionally healthy and break the cycle of repeat incarcerations. They take life skills and basic financial management classes, get a job and share in household chores. The skills they learn help them build positive, sustainable lives.

The nonprofit program consistently has a waiting list. Women must apply to the program and pay a fee of $250 a month that helps cover educational materials, residential fees, the laundry facility, soap, personal hygiene and food.

“Once the new house is built, because it will be a bigger facility, the fees will be $350 a month (after a woman gets a job),” Beam said.

Beam describes Passages clients as wonderful women who made bad choices.

“Passages doesn’t just affect women in the program. The ripple effect is her children, her siblings, her friends, her community. They see changes in her and it encourages them that they can change,” Beam said.

For more information about Passages, go to