Willow Domestic Violence Center launches campaign to purchase new shelter home

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Logo // Photo by Willow Domestic Violence Center

The Willow Domestic Violence Center has launched Growing Forward, a capital campaign to purchase a second shelter in Lawrence and assist in needed repairs and updates to the current location. 

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A collection of masks painted by the survivors and their children as part of our shelter Art Program // Photo by Willow Domestic Violence Center

The Willow serves the communities of Douglas, Franklin, and Jefferson counties with life-saving shelter and services for survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking.  The Willow has come a long way from the volunteer-based battered women’s shelter it began as in 1976. The agency now serves all survivors regardless of gender identity, and provides services including advocacy, case management, education, referrals, protection order assistance, foster transition support, and transitional housing.

In January, The Willow’s current 28-bed shelter was damaged by flooding, effectively halving its capacity. Even prior to the flood, the shelter regularly turned away over 30 survivors each month due to capacity restraints. With shelter services being an issue across the community, the organization realized changes are necessary.  

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January’s Human Trafficking event featuring survivor Rebecca Bender // Photo by Willow Domestic Violence Center

This capital campaign will fund the purchase of a second property that will provide space for an additional 20 survivors in The Willow’s service area. Funds will also be used to improve accessibility and provide a new back yard therapeutic and recreation area at the current shelter.

Additionally, The Willow is moving from a 30-day emergency stay to a 90-day stay.  Research shows that increasing the length of stay greatly increases the ability of survivors to successfully escape abusive situations. In many instances, survivors need to replace personal documents, find employment, arrange for transportation or childcare, and secure affordable housing.  The 90-day stay allows for trauma-informed case management and the time survivors and their families need to stabilize and have long term success.

“Our current shelter is always at capacity,” Executive Director Megan Stuke said. “The Willow has to grow forward so that we can effectively support individuals as they transform their lives.”

Last year, The Willow provided 6,999 nights of safe shelter to survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking in Douglas, Franklin, and Jefferson counties, and provided services such as individual advocacy, court support, and safety planning to over 900 clients in our community.

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