HELP Fund awarded to assist in construction of facility to support victims of domestic violence
Basement walls are poured on what is soon to be a new Domestic Violence Network in Madison, SD. After looking for a new home for their shelter since 2016, DVN Director Christina VanDeWetering is excited to see progress.
“Our current shelter is too small and in poor repair,” VanDeWetering said. “That drove our desire to relocate the shelter.”
After two unsuccessful attempts to purchase existing properties, DVN was fortunate to secure a piece of property that is centrally located for an affordable price. They are purchasing two Governor’s houses which will be joined by a garage on the lot.
This all comes after four years of fundraising as well as obtaining financing from a local bank, along with Heartland Consumers District’s HELP Fund.
Filling a Need
A formal groundbreaking ceremony was scheduled for early March, but had to be canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But, construction still went on as planned and VanDeWetering is hopeful the new shelter will be open by mid-July.
When completed, one of the Governor’s houses will provide shelter to 3 families right away with the option to add rooms in the basement for additional housing.
The second home will provide private offices for meeting with victims, an area for group counseling, and an overflow room for emergency housing if the main shelter is full. This building will also allow the opportunity to house men without utilizing hotel rooms.
The new lot will also provide a larger outdoor area for kids to play.
“The new facility will provide the privacy needed to work with individuals in a warm and welcoming setting,” said DVN Board President Cathy Moore.
Approximately 60 individuals stay at the shelter annually, although numbers vary from year to year. However, the nonprofit assists approximately 130 individuals in a given year.
Fundraising, HELP Fund assist with financing
DVN has been raising money for a new building since 2016. To date, they have raised over $140,000, which is enough to cover about one-third of the cost of the new facility.
VanDeWetering says most of their funds have come through private donations. DVN hosts fundraising events each year, including their most popular, Laughs and Linguine in late February. The event combines a pasta dinner with a stand-up comedian, dessert auction and silent auction.
Other organizations have also assisted by holding special events to raise funds for the shelter.
“It is truly humbling to see other groups work to raise money for our cause,” said Moore. “It shows how important this facility is to the community.”
To fill the financing gap, DVN applied for a Heartland HELP Fund loan as well as obtained financing from a local bank.
“This has been a truly rewarding project to work on,” said Heartland Director of Economic Development and Governmental Affairs Casey Crabtree. “DVN’s director and volunteer board have worked incredibly hard to put this together. This shelter is a necessary asset in the community, and we are proud to be a partner.”
DVN will continue fundraising efforts and have added two new ways for people to support the project: through the GoFundMe link on Facebook and by designating the Domestic Violence Network as the charitable organization of choice on Amazon Smile.
Providing support and shelter
In addition to a safe place to stay, DVN provides a multitude of services to domestic violence victims including courtroom advocacy, helping clients obtain protection orders and perform safety planning, and ultimately supports clients as they transition into a different life. This may include anything from assisting them with applications to connecting them with other community resources.
VanDeWetering pointed out that domestic violence can take many forms, including emotional and financial, but physical violence is often evident and is escalating.
“The physical violence is getting worse,” VanDeWetering said. “The abuse is getting more violent. The incidences of strangling and suffocation and knives are increasing.”
Statistics indicate one in three women will experience abuse in a relationship in her lifetime. Similarly one in nine men will experience abuse.
While VanDeWetering says they will miss their old neighbors who kept watch over the previous shelter and often helped with maintenance or dropped off baked goods, they are excited for the additional space and amenities the new shelter will provide.
“It’s going to be so much better,” she said.