CHOICES Announces Shelter Expansion, Fundraising Campaign During Domestic Violence Awareness MonthOctober 14, 2020 1:58 pm Taijuan Moorman
Lutheran Social Services’ CHOICES domestic violence shelter and hotline has announced a $1.5 million, 24-bed expansion of the shelter that first opened at the top of 2019.
The expansion of the shelter constitutes a “household” — six bedrooms, which is the equivalent of 24 beds, four full bathrooms, a sitting room and a laundry room — that meets the growing need for domestic violence services in Columbus.
The expansion coincides with Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which started on October 1. Unfortunately, October 1 also marked the start of more than $170,000 in funding cuts from the federal government.
The loss of federal grant money has made CHOICES pivot to other fundraising options, including taking donations from individual donors. CHOICES is now in the midst of its “The Future is Now” fundraising campaign to support the completion of the much-needed shelter expansion, which will be known as “Future House.”
“For us, maintaining the levels of staffing that keep the shelter safe, ensuring that everyone who is in shelter has access to a case manager, to mental health counseling, to groups, to food, to all the services that we provide in shelter is really critical,” said Sue Villilo, Assistant Vice President of Community-Based Services for Lutheran Social Services.
In early October, the City of Columbus and the Franklin County Board of Commissioners announced a program to improve criminal justice responses for Central Ohio residents in order to help protect victims of domestic violence.
The program, called the Blueprint for Safety Initiative, develops a blueprint for how information is collected and shared throughout the justice system — from the officers and the courts to everything in between — making the process easier and more consistent for domestic violence survivors, said Villilo.
“It’s very exciting from our perspective at CHOICES, because this is just going to be a huge help to our victims that are going through the legal process,” she said.”It’s extremely confusing — multiple court buildings, multiple floors that you have to be on just for one event.”
As Domestic Violence Awareness Month continues, Villilo says it’s important to recognize many vulnerable members of the community are suffering in silence. Building awareness around this issue, as well as making victims and survivors aware there are services out there to help, is crucial.
“One in four women in their lifetime will be a victim of domestic violence. That’s 25% of all women,” said Villilo. “It’s so pervasive. It’s really important that people are aware of this and tuned into it when it could be happening with a friend or a loved one, or even in their own relationship.”
For more information or to give, visit lssnetworkofhope.org/choices. Need help? Call the 24-hour crisis line at 614-224-HOME or 614-224-4663.