For The Women's Center, a series of stimulus grants means that the organization which provides support for victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse can help more women - and often their children - get their lives back on track.
"The need is great in these communities," said Pamela McCloud Lemur, director of the Center. The Center is based in New Bedford and has a branch office in Fall River and three shelters. Approximately 100 people come through the Center every month.
The Center received four stimulus-funded awards and, said Lemur, they have made a huge difference in the Center's ability not only to help victims but to also do community outreach and prevent future ones.
"Numbers don't tell the whole story," said Lemur, who noted that five members of her staff were retained through these awards and they were able to hire a staff person to do outreach in area schools. "We can now provide more comprehensive wrap around services."
Recovery Act Impact: The Women's Shelter
The outreach involved anti-bullying programs as well as awareness of dating violence. "Anybody can become a victim," said Lemur.
Anybody like the Center's outreach coordinator, a former Miss New Bedford in 2009, who was nearly murdered by her boyfriend. She is now able to tell her story in area schools and explain how step by step her boyfriend cut her off from her family and became violent. "She makes high school girls start to wonder about the decisions to take a boyfriend back when he becomes violent," said Lemur. "They can think about stopping [the relationship] earlier, when he gets verbally abusive."
The funds were also able to help women like a recent client at the Center who is severely handicapped. She has two teenaged children and was involved in a serious domestic violence situation. Her husband left the home but her landlord was a friend of his and was tormenting her. "The funding let us move her to a handicapped accessible apartment," said Lemur.
The funds were also able to help another client leave the homeless shelter she had been living in for 14 months with her two children.
They couldn't believe, said Lemur, that they were finally going to have a place they could call home.