Closing domestic violence shelter pains ACTS board

Aug. 06, 2013 @ 05:24 PM

Decreased federal and state grant money is forcing the only domestic violence shelter in Vance County to shut its doors.

Heart’s Haven, a shelter for domestic violence survivors, closed on July 31 after the Area Christians Together in Service’s Board of Directors made the painstaking decision to end funding for the women’s shelter and focus all of the group’s efforts on the soup kitchen and food pantry at 305 S. Chestnut St.

ACTS Board Chair Linda Weaver said this was one of the hardest decisions the board ever had to make.

“Your whole body just hurt from knowing you had to do this,” Weaver said.

ACTS feeds between 75-125 people per day, in addition to the meals on wheels program and summer kids program that director Twana Jones organized for the first time this year. It feeds breakfast to about 18-20 children per day.

“We felt like we could do better services to the community by focusing on the food services rather than both,” said Cece Leahy, who has served on the ACTS Board of Directors for seven years. “I think we need it here, but we got to the point where we couldn’t do it all. It was just too much for us.”

Leahy said ACTS received about $130,000 in federal and state grant money to operate Heart’s Haven. The funding was spent primarily on building maintenance and payroll for the shelter’s six employees.

“Over the past five years, our grant funding has been reduced and our expenses are going up,” said Leahy.

Safe Space Inc. Executive Director Linda Rudolph said her domestic violence shelter in Louisburg has experienced cuts in state and local grant funding as well.

Rudolph said Safe Space’s funding from the N.C. Governor’s Crime Commission grant, a federal block grant, decreased by more than $200,000 for this year and the N.C. Council for Women grant was cut by 10 percent last year.

“We had to layoff our court advocate who was primarily funded by the grant,” Rudolph said of a full-time position. She said they could no longer go into court or the magistrate’s office with survivors.

“That really hurt,” Rudolph said.

Citizens Against Domestic Violence, Inc. in Warrenton is another local domestic violence shelter that provides emergency services, transportation, housing, legal and medical assistance, court advocacy and protective services for survivors of domestic violence.

CADV Executive Director Scott O’Neal said his organization is taking on about four to five more cases per day because Heart’s Haven closing.

“We try to meet all the needs we can but sometimes we have to refer them out because we don’t have the resources,” O’Neal said.

Granville County’s Family Living Violence Free is a dual service provider that helps survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse, but it does not offer long-term shelter.

“We are going to make sure that if someone is in danger they have access to immediate housing safety,” said Executive Director Lauren Rene.

Families Living Violence Free places women in temporary safety, assists them in finding permanent shelter, provides safety planning, professional counseling, legal services and court advocacy.

“From our perspective, I want to assure the community that we are a victim advocacy center and we will assist anyone who calls our office,” Rene said. “We want to make sure victims know that there is help, there are options and there are still services.”

While the shelter is closed, Leahy said ACTS would still try to assist domestic violence survivors in any way it can.

“We are not going to send people away just because we closed the shelter and don’t technically offer those services,” she said. “Our intent is to help people the best we can, whether that means referring them to someone else or helping them ourselves.”

Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.

 

MORE HELP AVAILABLE

 

Shelters for women, located in or near Vance County:

 

Safe Space Inc.

Domestic violence shelter

Location: Louisburg

Crisis line: (919) 497-5444 or (800) 620-6120

Online at ncsafespace.org

 

Lifeline Outreach Inc.

Women’s shelter

Location: 2014 Raleigh Rd. Henderson

Phone number: (252) 438-2098

 

Citizens Against Domestic Violence

Domestic violence shelter

Location: 136 S. Main St. Warrenton

Crisis line: English (252) 257-992, Spanish (252) 213-8005

Phone: (252) 257-6781

Online via facebook.com

 

Families Living Violence Free

Location: Oxford

Support and services for survivors of domestic violence

Phone: (919) 693-5700

Crisis Line: (919) 528-3579

Online at granvilleflvf.org