People are constantly asking for our money to support worthy causes. So, who on earth do we give to? Often, we donate our hard-earned cash to a cause that has somehow impacted our life in a personal way.
The problem with this motivation is that the Family Abuse Shelter of Miami County is in the final stages of fundraising in order to relocate, and a lot of folks might not have ever experienced domestic violence, elder abuse, sexual assault, human trafficking or homelessness. Yet many individuals in our community have.
For instance, more than 35 years ago, I was a victim of domestic violence and lived for months in a newly-opened shelter in another geographic area. This is a part of my history I would prefer to forget. But a very wise woman who was a Holocaust survivor once told me, if we have survived a challenging circumstance, we have a moral responsibility to assist others facing a similar struggle.
My experience allowed me to be in a safe place during a turbulent time. I went on to graduate from college, marry a man who detests domestic violence, and occasionally to champion for others who are too marginalized by their environment to speak up for themselves.
After all, it’s easy to blame the homeless or a domestic violence or elder abuse victim, etc. about why they ended up in such a condition. Why couldn’t they find or keep a job? Why did they allow themselves to be treated in such an unhealthy manner in the first place? But unless we “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes,” it’s best not to judge.
Troy resident, Ruth Jenkins, has served on the board of the private, non-profit organization since the mid-1980s. Jenkins admits the reasons people seek assistance are complex, “They just go through a bad time in their life.” She believes, the shelter and its services like case management and court advocacy for domestic violence victims are all about, “…giving people a hand…[sometimes, it] is all they need to become stable again.”
Forty years ago, the Family Abuse Shelter of Miami County was founded by the late Barbel Adkins, whose daughter Barb Holman, now serves as the director. Jenkins explained, “The shelter was actually established in 1979,” as a safe haven for domestic violence victims. “People don’t realize how much of that is going on in the county.”
The Franklin House in downtown Troy is for women and children, along with The Buckeye House men’s shelter on S. Market St. These facilities house those requiring assistance in Miami County 365 days a year. Desperately needing more room for women and children, the organization is planning to relocate to a former physician’s office at 530 Crescent Drive in Troy.
This move will increase available beds from 26 to 40, increase services for the growing number of elderly and disabled, allow for separation of the domestic violence and homeless populations, provide handicap accessibility, and create a place for children to play. In, 2017, the Franklin House sheltered 184 women and almost 100 children totaling 6,654 “bed nights.” As far as helping those in need, “It’s a common responsibility…,” Jenkins said.
A 2.3 million investment is required to accommodate the relocation, and Jenkins, who is serving as the fundraising chairperson said, “We have raised 1.2 million from major funding sources including: foundations, corporations, and individuals.” Some substantial grants are pending, and recently, the shelter reached out to the local community for donations through a mailing.
“We want to ask our community to help…every dollar will absolutely be put to good use…[because] the need is great,” said Jenkins, who is the widow of the late, former Troy mayor, Pete Jenkins.
A groundbreaking for the expansion project is tentatively scheduled for mid-summer with an estimated project completion in spring 2020. “It’s just important the community supports the project at whatever level they can afford,” said the fundraising chairperson.
As the Family Abuse Shelter website promises, “All contributions no matter the size will help us expand our reach and change lives.” Like my own story, our community is filled with powerful testimonies of the shelter’s impact to transform lives.
To donate online or for more information about the project go to the link on the shelter’s website at https://familyabuseshelterofmiamicounty.org/donate/shelter-expansion/. Or mail your donation to Family Abuse Shelter of Miami County, Inc., 16 East Franklin St., Troy, OH 45373. To request a brochure call the shelter at (937) 339-6761.
Christina Ryan Claypool is a freelance journalist and an inspirational speaker. Contact her through her website at www.christinaryanclaypool.com.