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Crisis center lends women support

Published: Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Updated: Thursday, December 1, 2011 13:12

Women's Crisis donations

Megan Heyl/Herald

The Women’s Crisis Center of Northeast Arkansas is open to having volunteers come and help. All volunteers must go through a training process in order to properly help those in need. If interested, call 870-972-9575.

Each year, 33 percent of all the women murdered in the U.S. are killed by a spouse or a boyfriend in a incident of domestic abuse."

This line of text found on the Women's Crisis Center of Northeast Arkansas' website shows a scary reality.

Here in northeast Arkansas, the Women's Crisis Center's 24-hour hotline receives an average of about 300 calls a month.

In Jonesboro alone, there were 255 reports of domestic violence in 2010, and in 2011 there have already been 273 reports according to Heidi Wells, crime analyst assistant of the Jonesboro Police Department.

The women's crisis center works to help these women through the hot line, emergency shelter, support groups and emergency transportation when the women need to escape abuse.

"We know that when a woman is leaving that relationship that that's the most dangerous time for them," said Sherri Cothern, assistant director of the Women's Crisis Center. "It's important for victims to know that they're not alone in this."

When women are forced to flee their homes, the Women's Crisis Center will house them at private, undisclosed locations. Many of these women come to stay with nothing but the clothes on their backs, and sometimes even have their children with them, so the shelter has to provide for them.

Cothern said that the center can provide housing for up to 22 women and children at a time and it is very rarely not full.

This year, at its annual Halloween party and charity event, the ASU Honors Living Learning Community decided it wanted to help the Women's Crisis Center.

Delaney Foster, graduate hall director of the Honors Living Learning Community, explained why.

 "The real reason the women's shelter was our choice was because there's such a need. It's kind of a forgotten charity," she said.

Foster said that since the shelter location is kept secret it causes people to pick other charities over it. "Since we don't see it, we tend not to think of it," Foster explained.

Once they decided that they wanted to help, the resident assistants and residents of the HLLC brought in donations of items needed for the shelter. Basic household items like soap, toilet paper and toothbrushes are always needed for the women and children who stay at the shelter.

The majority of the donations were gathered at the HLLC Halloween dance as part of a competition between the nine floors.

Nicole Lindsey, a junior mathematics education major of Hot Springs and HLLC RA, said her floor collected five industrial-sized trash bags of supplies, winning the competition.

"I couldn't be more proud of my residents and the Honors community all together," Lindsey said.

"I know during Halloween, a lot of the time people aren't really thinking about ways to give back to the community, they're just thinking like what costume am I going to wear and what parties am I going to," said Allie McKinley, a sophomore radio-TV major of Bryant and HLLC RA.

"The Honors Halloween party was really fun, but that wasn't the best part of the evening," said Rachel Childers, a sophomore psychology major of Sherwood. "The best part of the evening was seeing the donations that were going to be given to the Women's Crisis Center."

The students continued to spread the word after the dance and donations have been coming in ever since.

Foster estimates that they have gathered about 200 pounds in donations.  

Foster, a graduate student of Jackson, Miss., who majors in college student personal services, said she learned about these shelters while serving as the senior RA at a University of Southern Mississippi all-female dormitory.

"Many of the girls that lived there experienced domestic abuse," Foster said. Foster worked there for more than three years and said she would have at least one resident a month come to her with confessions of suffering from domestic abuse.

Foster would refer these students to the Women's Crisis Center there and even visited that center a few times.

"These places are often understaffed and they just don't have what they need to run," Foster said.

"Part of it is women helping other women, people helping other people. I believe very strongly that we should help one another if we can and this is just one way to do it," Foster said.


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