Nonprofit aims to assist domestic violence victims
Focus put on life after the shelter
After Columbia Basin Domestic Violence Services (CBDVS) folded last year, at least one group was
worried that some important advocacy programs might be going to be going by the wayside.
Despite the fact that an emergency shelter had remained intact, one of its domestic violence counselors
and two shelter advocates felt programs outside of the shelter, such as support groups, were being neglected.
And with Benton
and Franklin County law enforcement agencies
collectively reporting 1,736 instances of domestic violence in their jurisdictions in 2002, the advocates felt it was crucial
to ensure that such services didnt disappear.
Last summer, the group of employees broke away from CBDVS and began Silver Linings, a nonprofit company
that aims to provide help outside of a shelter setting for victims of domestic violence.
Silver Linings began offering support groups within the community in September 2003, and already
it has more than 10 groups that meet monthly.
Our agency saw first hand what the gaps in the community were because we all were involved somehow
within the local shelter, said Tanya Martinez, president of Silver Linings.
The companys approach focuses on education, but its specific goal is to provide transitional housing
to serve clients once they leave the shelter setting, according to Martinez.
She believes that in the past, local domestic violence advocacy has often overlooked remaining involved
with its clients after they leave the 30-day crisis shelter.
What we started to see was once people left the shelter, there really wasnt any follow up to whether
they went back to their abuser or what had happened, said Martinez.
And even in cases where the victim didnt return to the abuser, they often needed more help with getting
established on their own than they were provided, she said.
Thirty days is not a lot of time, said Martinez, adding
that when a client leaves the shelter, they may still be waitlisted for housing and other social services benefits that they
need to get started on their own.
The shelter atmosphere is completely different than once you
get out of the shelter. At the shelter, you have everything there, she said. A lot of the clients were seeing have never even had their own money.
With that in mind, the Silver Linings advocates plan to have transitional housing, where residents
can stay for up to 18 months, in place in Richland, Kennewick,
Pasco and West Richland within the next five years.
The four-bedroom houses would be placed in neighborhoods that are close to a school and within walking
distance to a bus stop. The homes would typically be shared by two to four families
and have a counselor available 24 hours a day.
Ultimately, Martinez said once the residents are able,
they might begin to pay a subsidized rent rate. However, because the housing
will be funded through grants, they would get the money back when they moved out.
Our main goal is to empower them to do it on their own, said Martinez.
Well give them all the avenues (continued to right column)