Every nine seconds a woman is assaulted in our nation. One out of three women will be abused in their life time. In addition many children live in abusive situations. Have you ever thought how you might make a difference? Have you ever thought how you could help those that need a helping hand?
Of course there is risk and we could be wrong. But someone has put it well when they said, “Silence only supports violence.” There is one way you and your neighbors can help.
Twenty years ago a Crisis Line was established for those caught in a situation of Domestic Violence an area covering Newton, Rockdale, and Walton Counties. From that crises line beginning came a Center serving the residence of these three counties. The name “Project ReNeWal” was formed from merging the names of the three counties involved.
The line is still very much in use. On an average week, about a thousand calls are received. The line is staffed 24/7 so that those seeking help for themselves, for a family member, a friend, or co-worker will be able to start the process of finding help.
The center has twenty five beds for those that need emergency housing. Ninety eight percent of those served are women or their children. The fact that about two percent served are men makes the center one of the few in state that can house male clients.
The location of the center is confidential. This is out of respect for the clients. It is also to give the residents a safe environment to work on the goals they have set for themselves.
Providing emergency shelter is by far not the only service provided by “Project ReNeWal.” According to its Executive Director, Vickie Stevenson, there were over 41,000 individual services given to clients by the Center during 2014. She said the need seems to be on the rise. The excuse given for this by many is the economy. But another factor is a willingness to address the problem. For all of us to admit it happens in our communities just as in all communities.
When a family or individual comes to the Center, a Case Worker sits down and works with the victims to come up with a plan of action. The goal is help the client move to a violence free living condition. Also to be able to live independently. The goal is for the client to be prepared to leave the shelter in four to six weeks. The Case Worker meets with each client once or twice a week to evaluate progress on meeting the goals of the plan and to adjust were needed.
Another service of “ReNeWal” is the counseling service both with individuals and groups. This is always given at no charge. The counselors go to each of the three counties at least once a week. Many who receive this counseling are able to stay in their home situation. ReNeWal” always works very closely with DFAC’s in each county.
People can call for help on the 24 hour help line, 770-860-1666. Or if necessary by calling 911. Besides the victims calling the Crises Line, people can be referred by others. This can be family, neighbors, friends, co-workers, professionals in various fields, as well by the law enforcement community and the courts.
Director Stevenson said the vision is to help families live free of violence. For some this takes help from others including the staff of “ReNeWal”. This is a vision that calls for a lot of effort. The funds that make all of this possible come from grants and donations. Gifts come from individuals as well as civic and church groups. Funding remains the greatest need.
Another need is for volunteers. Director Stevenson says they can match those who want to get involved to a task they can and want to do. Many of their seventy volunteers are from Emory at Oxford College. The students read to children at the shelter, help clean, and sort donations.
Can you imagine how it is to live in a situation where every day you are frightened? The “ReNeWal” project is one way we can help bring hope to those caught in such a situation. Confidentially share the crises number with those that might need it. Again that number is 770-860-1666. Encourage your civic group or church to support “ReNeWal.”
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. While that will hopefully bring attention to this issue. But this is not a problem for any specific month but touches too many every month. Let us not be silent if we can make a difference in the lives of others.
B. Wiley Stephens is a retired United Methodist Minister and author who now resides in Covington.