Families in Transition planning expansion, fundraising effort
Director: ‘ It is imperative that we increase capacity to serve more victims and decrease the number returning to abusive situations due to lack of shelter’
If you’ve never heard of Families in Transition, it’s probably because you have, fortunately, never been in need of their services, but that's also because the 25year-old nonprofit has served victims of domestic violence in the community under a tight blanket of confidentiality.
Based with a shelter home in West Memphis, the organization’s good works have led to reaching some new high-water marks, and Families in Transition (FIT) has launched a fundraiser to expand to meet the needs.
According to Director Cassie Rutledge the safe house must expand bed space and services to meet needs in the community.
“We are helping families, women, children and men, to restart their lives after traumatic situations,” said Rutledge. “Due to our limited capacity we had to turn away requests for shelter and services to 302 individuals last year. It is imperative that we increase capacity to serve more victims and decrease the number returning to abusive situations due to lack of shelter.”
The planned fundraising will provide the remainder to purchase the shelter from the landlord, expand family dorm rooms, upgrade the existing galley styled single stove top kitchen to allow multiple families to cook and dine at the same time, expand bathroom facilities, and provide a bigger common area for children to play indoors and hold client training meetings. The initial goal of $25,000 added to resources on hand would help the group buy its building and begin much needed renovations.
While FIT looked to expand its shelter, it has already moved to the forefront training domestic violence advocates and law enforcement agencies to develop appropriate response protocol for domestic
violence victims. A training last month served to help officials identify and act in cases of human trafficking and abuse. The free sessions were attended by a large spectrum of help agencies and greatly appreciated by participants for the information provided and networking connections made. Continuing education credits were available to help participants maintain accreditation in their fields and the training attracted a wide spectrum of participants.
“We had 77 registered,” said Rutledge, “they were from local, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies, mental health professionals, Department of human Services, child advocate, domestic violence staff, federal grant funding agencies, the city of West Memphis, medical personnel, and attorneys. Our participants were from Shelby county to Conway.”
The training accomplished much in banding groups together for teamwork in identifying and responding to human trafficking and violence victims.
“It allowed us to educate participants on the need for interagency protocol to expedite
responses for victims
of domestic violence and trafficking,” said Rutledge.
“This training was unprecedented on this end of the state. We were fortunate to receive a grant from the office of victims of crime, a federal agency, that provided for a free trainer. She does national training on human trafficking.”
Donations to provide means for expanded shelter capacity and services of Families in Transition to serve domestic violence victims may be made through the donate now button on the group Facebook page, or by sending a check or money order to FIT at P.O. Box 15, West Memphis, AR 72303.
By John Rech