This morning I received the following email from a good friend of mine. Joe works for Turning Point, a Chicago-area center serving women and children who are victims of domestic violence. Turning Point provides a help line, shelter, and courtroom advocacy to victims of abuse.
Funding for Turning Point has been drastically slashed, and some of the services they provide are in danger. Please read Joe's message below, and if you can help, please do. Remember, no donation is too small.
Since 2005, I've been working for Turning Point, a non-profit located in Woodstock Illinois that provides services to victims of domestic violence. We see about 1700 people a year as "walk-in clients" and can house twenty-one women and children a night in the area's only secure shelter. And I do mean secure — these victims are fleeing serious violence in their homes, often with only the clothes on their back (or what they can carry) to our shelter with bulletproof glass and double security doors. We rely on a mix of private donations, private and government grants and government funding. That funding provides individual and group counseling, legal and other advocacy, emergency food & shelter, a partner abuse intervention program and a myriad other services for victims. We provide 24 hour service and our trained advocates often go out in the middle of the night to a hospital emergency room or police station where a victim needs help. That's what we do.Shakers, if you can in any way help, please do. Again, no donation is too small. Every little bit helps keep these valuable and necessary services available to the women and children who depend on them. Thank you.
Late in 2008, we got word that the federal government was not renewing a $170,000 annual grant to fund our Law Enforcement Advocacy program (LEAP). This program funds our courtroom advocacy, after-hours orders of protection, police trainings and ride-alongs (going out with Police to train them how to better deal with their most common call: Domestic Violence). We were able to temporarily continue these services through a combination of belt-tightening and some additional community support but we recently were forced to make cuts in this program. It was painful, but we really don't have a choice: if new funds are not forthcoming, we cannot continue to deliver the full slate of services we have been. There isn't a lot of "fat" to trim from the Turning Point budget.
As I write this, the Illinois budget is supposedly settled, but we have still not been told how much our state funding will be cut, only that it will be cut. This is the second consecutive year Turning Point's State of Illinois funding has been cut. Other agencies in the county have already announced big service cuts, program cuts and are even cutting the number of clients they can serve. We have eliminated two positions in our courthouse office and cut back staff hours in the shelter. These cuts were chosen as the ones that would impact our agency services the least. These cuts will not be enough if funding continues to decrease. Can you imagine a day when a victim of Domestic violence summons the courage to ask for help only to be told that Turning Point isn't accepting new clients right now? That day is coming if we do not do something.
Since the beginning of 2009, five women and children with a connection to our county have been murdered in incidents of domestic violence*. Thirty-four percent of adult female homicide victims are killed by their husbands, ex-husbands or boyfriends — about 1500 women each year. We can not cut back now on the programs that help keep these people safe.
The need is so great and the situation is so urgent, I have to ask: Can you help? "Take a Stand for Turning Point" is Turning Point's biggest fundraiser and a great opportunity to get our message out to the world. Our local radio station Star 105.5 spends 36 hours on the air, telling our story and asking for donations. Each year that we have done this, in addition to an outpouring of donations, victims come forward after hearing about Turning Point on the radio. Our first radiothon had been on the air about an hour in 2006 when a woman pulled up, crying. She had been in an abusive relationship for years, but had been too scared to ask for help. She sat with a Turning Point Advocate in that parking lot, and for the first time, got the help she needed to end the violence in her own home.
If you can help, this is the time to do it. No donation is too small or too big:
1. $5 can buy a ream of printer paper that might be used to write an order of protection, stopping the violence in one home for one family.
2. $50 provides one session of counseling for a victim in crisis: One session might connect her to services that could potentially save her life.
3. $600 is enough to provide crisis intervention, legal advocacy, and non-legal advocacy for one "walk-in" victim of domestic violence who comes to Turning Point for help rebuilding her life.
4. $1800 provides 35 hours of counseling for a child who has witnessed or experienced violence in their home. Children in abusive homes tend to model their parents and grow up to be in abusive relationships as adults without counseling and early intervention.
5. $2,700 provides emergency shelter and supportive services for one victim of domestic violence who had to flee their home in order to be safe. Staying in the Turning point Shelter isn't just "bed & board." Residents get individual and group counseling and often job training, parenting classes, financial counseling- whatever they need to successfully transition to peaceful, healthy homes of their own. In the short term, that shelter saves lives; in the long term, staying there can also CHANGE lives.
There are several ways you can make a donation (which is tax deductible as allowed by law):
1. Write a check and mail it to Turning Point, PO Box 723, Woodstock IL 60098.
2. Make an on-line donation by going to our website. You can click on that "Donate Now" link and make a contribution with a credit or bank card. (There is also a lot more information about Turning Point at the site.)
3. If you are on Facebook, you can visit the Turning Point page, become a supporter and make an online contribution there.
4. The event is held LIVE on air Friday August 28 and Saturday August 29. You can stop by Sam's Club in Crystal Lake and make a donation in person. Or call in (during those two days only- phones are live 6 AM Friday until 6 PM Saturday, 8/28-29 ONLY) on our donation hotlines 815-276-9499 or 815-549-6655.
5. Or call Turning Point during business hours and give us the information: (815) 338 8081.
I know times are hard all over. If you can make a donation, believe me it will be much appreciated and put to good use. If you can't, I certainly understand, you don't need to explain or apologize. I know a lot of good causes are hitting hard times these days and the begging is fast and furious!
If you think of someone you know who you think can help, feel free to pass this on. The internet is a powerful tool. Thanks for reading to the bottom and I promise it will be a long, long time before I write one of these again!
* As Joe noted to me later, McHenry County is a rural area in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago: mostly farming and commuters into the city. "It's a small town place- les than 400,000 in the whole county which is why 5 people getting killed here is huge deal- we usually don't' have 5 murders a year, much less 5 people dead of domestic violence."