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A shelter in danger

Summit Daily photo illustration/Reid Williams The Advocates for Victims of Assault shelter provides a safe escape for women and children hundreds of nights each year. State and federal funding cuts have imperiled the safehouse, seen here.
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SUMMIT COUNTY – Regan Wood doesn’t like to beg, but the alternative is turning women and children in crisis out into the streets – or worse, back to the abusive or unsafe homes they fled in the first place.Wood, executive director of Summit County Advocates for Victims of Assault, learned this week that the nonprofit is in danger of losing its shelter due to state and federal cuts in grant money.The Advocates shelter, a house at an undisclosed location in Summit County, provides escape for women and families from trouble at home, dysfunctional relationships and abusive partners. The shelter also enables women to make a fresh start and begin forming support networks.

So far this year, the home has sheltered 19 women and 16 children for a total of 372 nights.Wood said it costs $35,000 a year to run the shelter. The Advocates rent the home from a former board member. However, cuts in the federal government’s Violence Against Women Act funding by $200,000 and cuts in other state grants have translated into a $20,000 shortfall for Wood’s organization, which also works with the district attorney’s office in supporting victims of crime and other traumas. She added that more bad news is expected: Two recent grant applications are likely to be met with reduced financial awards.”We’re in dire straits,” Wood said Friday. “If we don’t come up with it by Jan. 1, we will have to close the shelter.”Agencies and nonprofits in surrounding areas also operate shelters, but Wood said it’s not enough. All of the shelters are occupied regularly; she said a recent call to the seven closest shelters seeking an empty bed revealed there were none.

Wood said it’s possible to house people in need in hotels, but it’s more expensive and the people can’t stay as long.”In a shelter, the women bond with other women, they pool their resources sometimes and they can establish a support system,” Wood said. Wood was optimistic, however, about two upcoming fundraisers. Healthquest, beginning Sept. 11 at Copper Mountain, is a health symposium aimed at women. The weekend-long event includes seminars on health topics such as alternatives to hormone therapy and PMS, as well as a fundraising dinner and 5K and 10K runs. Proceeds from the event benefit Advocates.



The Winemakers’ Dinner, hosted by the Hearthstone Restaurant Sept. 16, will also benefit the group. Wood said this event is expected to raise about $4,000 more than budgeted, which will help defray the shelter crisis.”I’m hoping that any community members with extra resources will come forward,” Wood said. “This is a community problem, and we don’t want to lose the shelter.”Reid Williams can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 237, or at rwilliams@summitdaily.com.


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