The YWCA of Northwest Georgia provides 32 temporary beds to women and their children who have left violent homes. Those families are then able to live in one of 21 YWCA-owned apartments for up to two years.
Helping women shift from living in a crisis shelter to becoming self-sufficient is a multi-layered process, said Holly Tuchman, CEO of the nonprofit, and involves multiple counselors and advocates.
Tuchman has asked for a $30,000 grant from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs to fund a portion of the salaries for the center’s child advocate and transitional housing counselor.
The YWCA is funded by local, state and federal grants, the Governor’s Office on Children and Families and private donations. An event by the group last week — the Tribute to Women of Achievement — raised about $225,000, which is $50,000 more than what was donated last year.
Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds said the shelter is an important resource for women in Cobb because it’s the only source of emergency housing exclusively for victims of domestic violence.
“It’s one of those crimes that has no demographic boundaries whatsoever,” Reynolds said. “Anybody in any financial situation regardless of your race, your ethnicity, your cultural background, domestic violence can affect anyone.”
Clients of the YWCA meet regularly with counselors, set goals and find employment if they are underemployed or unemployed.
“Having a counselor is key to people healing,” Tuchman said.
Children are also counseled, mentored and tutored. Kids may be attending a new school after leaving their homes and may need help adjusting or making satisfactory grades.
It’s all part of an effort to break the cycle of violence, Tuchman said, as boys who grow up in a violent home are 50 percent more likely to become abusers themselves.
Most women stay in the YWCA’s transitional housing apartments for between eight and nine months, Tuchman said, and 75 percent move into non-subsidized apartments or buy their own home when they leave.
Kim Gresh, chairwoman-elect of the YWCA board, said grants are more important than ever for nonprofits. With corporate and individual donors alike still recovering from the depths of the Great Recession and governments more careful of spending cash, nonprofits have struggled.
“So many things that come to us have been cut,” Gresh said. “It’s 10 percent here and 7 percent here.”
But even as income dwindles, Gresh said, domestic violence remains a problem.
“Our problem over there at the YWCA is that our clients still need us no matter what’s going on in the economy,” Gresh said.
The YWCA is also finishing a fundraising campaign that will fund an expansion of its emergency shelter from 32 beds to 40 beds. Gresh said the 30-year-old shelter is in need of repairs and updating.
Women who use the shelter come from unimaginable situations, Gresh said, and providing a pleasant place to stay can make the difference in overcoming those circumstances.