$36,500 saves Advocates for Victims safehouse
SUMMIT COUNTY – The Advocates for Victims of Assault’s safehouse is safe again.The nonprofit stood the chance of losing the shelter if it didn’t come up with the money for rent, utilities, groceries and other expenses used to help people get back on their feet after an abusive incident.Executive director Regan Wood learned at a Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence emergency board meeting last week that the state must refund $459 million to taxpayers in the next two years – and cut $263 million from the budget – under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR).That will result in the state cutting some of the $120,000 it allocates to the local organization – almost half of the group’s $262,000 annual budget.Those cuts and cuts at the federal level translated into a $20,000 shortfall for the local domestic violence group.”We run on such a tight budget, we can’t afford any cuts,” she said. “The first place they hit is human services. It will critically affect domestic violence programs in the state of Colorado.”Wood put out the plea, and in the past two weeks, the community came forth, donating or helping raise $36,500 to keep the shelter open for another year.At a Healthquest fundraiser at Copper Mountain Sept. 11, people participated in a women’s health symposium, a fire department auction and dinner, a health expo and 5- and 10-kilometer races to raise $7,000.The annual Winemaker’s dinner and silent auction at the Hearthstone raised $18,000, and members of the community chipped in an additional $11,600 after a Summit Daily News article and Channel 4 news spot Sept. 5.”It’s a huge relief,” Wood said. “I can sleep now.”Wood said it costs the Advocates about $35,000 a year to keep the shelter running. As of the end of August, the organization had received 1,771 calls for assistance. Last year, the group received 3,100 calls.So far this year, the home has sheltered 19 women and 16 children for a total of 372 nights.The organization’s board is thinking about relocating the shelter in 2006 to keep the location secure. The current home, a two-bedroom, two-bath house in an undisclosed location in the county, is owned by a previous board member. It was established in 1996 to provide a safe place for people who are having trouble at home, involved in dysfunctional relationships and with abusive partners. The shelter also enables people to make a fresh start and form networks.”We like to have it in a neighborhood environment with easy access to a playground for young kids,” she said. “We also like to have backyards for pets that people bring with them.”Wood said she doesn’t know what to expect for 2006, although she is writing grant applications.”I’ll plead,” she said, half jokingly. “Hopefully, the community will keep coming. Our types of programs are going to become more and more community supported or they’re not going to exist.”Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or at email@example.com.
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