CASDA fundraising lags behind goalLike cancer, domestic violence and sexual abuse can strike anywhere. “It doesn’t pick and choose an income level,” said Kym Young, shelter manager for the Center Against Sexual and Domestic Abuse. Victims can be all ages and all backgrounds.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
Like cancer, domestic violence and sexual abuse can strike anywhere.
“It doesn’t pick and choose an income level,” said Kym Young, shelter manager for the Center Against Sexual and Domestic Abuse. Victims can be all ages and all backgrounds. Young has worked with college students, military wives, parents with young children and seniors. CASDA was there for her when the domestic violence advocate became a victim herself.
“I am a CASDA success story,” Young said. “Back in 2008, I went through a very, very major domestic violence situation while I was getting my bachelor’s degree.”
In her 20 years as an advocate, it was one of the worst situations she’d ever seen. Young was ready to give up, but support from CASDA and the Domestic Abuse Response Team kept her safe and in school.
“I equate my getting through that with their help,” Young said. Her abuser got one of the toughest sentences Young had ever seen handed down in Douglas County Circuit Court and, two weeks ago, she earned her master’s degree in art history.
“Domestic and sexual violence is not just an individual problem, it’s a community problem,” said Leanne Grbavcich, sexual assault program coordinator. Its effects can be seen in police calls, court cases, hospital rooms and lost days of work and school.
CASDA stands in the gap, providing a web of critical need services such as safe haven for victims escaping abusive situations, legal help, support groups and crisis counseling. Until the organization raises needed capital campaign funds, however, staff must work out of scattered sites with diminished capacity.
Hawkes Hall on the University of Wisconsin-Superior campus was home to CASDA and many agencies for decades. But a need for more campus housing led to the decision to renovate Hawkes back into a residence hall. CASDA’s administrative offices moved into 318 21st Ave. E. at the end of February, but until the former medical clinic is renovated, its emergency shelter is housed elsewhere. The three-bedroom home can only shelter three families at a time. At the university, CASDA could serve eight.
“The number of victims we can serve has dropped drastically,” said Young, who had to turn away four women seeking shelter within a few days due to lack of space. Some of them had young children. That leaves a nagging question: Where are they going?
Some go back to the abusive situation, CASDA staff said. Others look to family and friends. A lot of victims are turning to homeless shelters, Young said, which takes shelter from those who are homeless and causes a “bad spiral.”
“We need to be up at full strength,” she said.
Having the shelter and office at two different sites has caused transportation hassles and safety concerns for victims who need to travel back and forth. Recently, a third site has been set up to hold support group meetings. None of the small doctor’s offices at the former clinic are big enough for the group to gather in.
CASDA launched a “New Beginnings” capital campaign for renovating the building six months ago. To date, it has raised $750,000 toward its $1.5 million goal. The most recent contributions include $125,000 over the next five years from Charter Films and a pledge of $50,000 from BNSF Railways to be given in installments over the next three years.
The bare minimum needed for renovation work to start is $860,000, Burger said. Work will take an estimated six months to complete. Once finished, the site will be able to house up to 10 families and provide space for teens and children to gather and relax.
The shelter is more than a place to hide. It provides a safe, homey environment where victims can make decisions for their futures. Resources are provided to help these men, women and children get on their feet and stay there.
“We’re not just a rescue effort,” Young said. “We’re empowering women to change their lives.”
How many of these victims get that chance is in everybody’s hands.
“As a community, every single one of us can make a difference, whether it’s contributing financial monies, volunteer hours or even non-monetary services,” Grbavcich said. “It’s a community problem and if we all can band together we can make a change and we can get CASDA up and running to its full potential so we can better our community and serve victims of violence and save their lives ultimately.”
CASDA serves Douglas, Ashland and Bayfield counties through the Superior office and a satellite office in Bayfield County. For more information on CASDA, call the 24-hour hotline at (715) 392-3136, toll free (800) 649-2921, or go to www.casda.org.