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Douglas County women’s shelter is possibility

by Joyce Hollister

With a boost from the Soroptimist International of Carson Valley, the Family Support Council is looking to acquire a women’s shelter in Douglas County.

“Basically, the Soroptimists and some other community people approached us first about a shelter,” said Family Support Council Director Karen Edwards. “They felt there was a real need. The board of directors of the council made a shelter one of its long-term goals.”

The Soroptimists put aside funds for a shelter beginning last year, Edwards said, adding, “Now I understand they have over $10,000 for it.”

The Family Support Council board created a committee to investigate the needs for a shelter, how much it would cost and what kind of shelter would be appropriate.

“Do we want to build a facility or do we want to purchase an older home and remodel? Those are the kinds of decisions that have not been made yet,” she said.

The domestic violence staff at the Family Support Council have been visiting other women’s shelters to get information on what works and what doesn’t.

“We haven’t been looking for any foundation or grant funding yet,” Edwards said. “Before we do that, we want to have

our goals and our plans be specific.”

Edwards said, however, there is definitely the need for a shelter in the county.

“We are currently using the shelter in Carson City and safe homes and things of that nature to help victims, and the shelter in Carson is frequently full.”

Among the problems with sheltering women in Carson City is the distance. Children must be taken out of school, for instance, or the woman has transportation concerns if she works in the Valley and has to pay increased costs for her vehicle.

“A lot of times,” Edwards added, “there is a support system in Douglas County and not in Carson. It makes better sense for victims if they have a shelter in their own community.”

However, the board wants the shelter to be of the right kind and in the right place.

“There are a lot of issues,” Edwards said. “We really have to make sure we know what will work in this community before we start applying for money or looking for land. We have to look at areas in the community where a shelter would be appropriate.

“We want it good for the victims and good for our community. We don’t want to cause any problems for anyone.”

The number of victims of domestic violence who go to the agency for help is on the upswing, she said.

“As the community grows, our numbers of clients that we serve have really increased,” Edwards said. “With our new building and that visibility, we’re even busier. We’ve really been aware of how critical the need is.”

Edwards said the committee working on the shelter project is open to community members who are interested.

“I don’t want the committee to get huge and unworkable, but if people really have an interest in becoming involved and they can’t give money if they want to give us their time to help us pull this together, they should call me and I’ll let them know when committee meetings are so they can get involved.

“This is for our community, and we want to have community input.”

The Family Support Council has been in existence since 1982, first as a non-profit domestic violence program and then expanding to include various family-supportive projects such as parenting classes and the CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocates for Children) program.

The council’s office is located at 1255 A Waterloo Lane, Gardnerville; telephone number is 782-8692.

The Record-Courier E-mail: rc@tahoe.com

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