The Edmond Sun
More than ever, victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking are coming to the Oklahoma City YWCA for help.
In response, the local YWCA is launching a $15 million capital campaign to better help the women and children of Oklahoma escape domestic violence and break the cycle of abuse by more than doubling the capacity of its current shelter, said Oklahoma City YWCA CEO Janet Peery.
Currently, the Oklahoma City YWCA operates the only shelter specifically for victims of domestic and sexual violence in Oklahoma County. Last year, it served 530 women and children, and more than 17,000 women, children and men through all programs.
The Oklahoma City YWCA must raise $14 million by Oct. 9 to receive a challenge grant of $1 million, Peery said. About $100,000 is needed to reach that goal. Crest Foods, which has an Edmond location at 2200 W. 15th St., has challenged its customers to contribute.
Peery said the funds will help the YWCA increase the number of shelter beds from 55 to 120, and the current shelter will be used for extended stay clients. Peery said $5 million is earmarked for an endowment used to maintain facilities.
Access to services saves lives, Peery said. The organization provides services including counseling, case management, support groups, economic empowerment and child care.
Statistics from the Oklahoma City YWCA’s 2012 annual report illustrate the growing needs:
• 8 percent — the increase in victims seen at the hospital by YWCA sexual assault hospital advocacy personnel;
• 17 percent — the increase in the total units of service provided by the YWCA;
• 31 percent — the increase in residents served at the local YWCA emergency shelter;
• 59 percent — the increase in the number of victims transported to other shelters across the state when the YWCA shelter is full. The recent economic downturn has resulted in the need for longer stays in the shelter and greater need for supplemental services;
• 61 percent — the increase in clients served via domestic violence education and support groups;
• 67 percent — the increase in volume of calls to a YWCA domestic violence hotline;
• 73 percent — the increase in clients served via a YWCA economic empowerment program; and
• 81 percent — the number of female clients versus male clients. Domestic violence and sexual assault can happen to all boundaries regardless of gender, age, race, religion, culture, socio-economic level or educational attainment.
The YWCA attributes the increases to outreach efforts, system collaboration and the current capital campaign, Peery said.
“We expect this trend to continue,” she said.
Children are present in nearly half of the homes where police intervene in domestic violence calls, according to the YWCA. Youth who witness domestic violence are more likely to attempt suicide, abuse drugs and alcohol, run away from home, drop out of high school, become sexually active at an early age and commit other delinquent acts.
Victims are referred to the organization by the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office, the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, local homeless shelters, other partner agencies and local law enforcement agencies.
In fiscal year 2012, the Oklahoma City YWCA was unable to provide shelter for 455 women and about 500 children in need of immediate emergency assistance, according to the organization’s 2012 annual report.
While the level of need is rising, the amount of money the organization receives from the Legislature through the Oklahoma Office of the Attorney General has remained flat in recent years.
Regarding services billed to the AG’s office, the dollars received by the Oklahoma City YWCA from Fiscal Year 2007 to Fiscal Year 2012 have ranged from a low of $419,515 to a high of $604,820. Meanwhile, YWCA expenses invoiced have risen each year from $1.34 million in FY 2007 to $2.4 million in FY 2012.
Perhaps the most important statistic of all is 94 percent of women surveyed told the Oklahoma City YWCA that their time with the organization gave them a sense of hope for the future.
For more information about the Oklahoma City YWCA, visit ywcaokc.org.
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