Donations Help Pay For Domestic Violence Shelter

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Tough economic times have inflicted a 16 percent decline in donated items this year to Time Out, the thrift shop that supports the area's only full-service shelter for domestic violence victims and their children.

"I'm sure part of it is the economy," said Gerry Bailey, executive director of Time Out. "We're not getting as much furniture as we used to get."

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Judi Freegard searches through one of the many clothing racks looking for bargains at the Time Out Thrift Store on the Beeline Highway.

Big-ticket items produce more profit for the organization than clothes, though the shelter does appreciate smaller items.

The stumbling economy also spurred a $10,000 cut in federal money. Time Out's fiscal year 2009 budget is about $876,000.

"I don't want to put out a red flag or a loud-sounding alarm," Bailey said. "We're just a little concerned that donations are down."

The thrift shop, she added, "has saved us in the past."

Services include a 24-hour hotline, a 28-bed shelter, four units of transitional housing, and therapy to help domestic violence victims heal from post-traumatic stress and build life skills.

The organization helps women develop parenting skills, career paths and a sense of independence.

Even something so simple as finding a job can liberate a woman. Some abusive husbands prevent their wives from working, Bailey said.

"If she works, then she might have a little control."

To help abuse victims navigate the legal system and connect with area advocacy groups, the Gila Family Advocacy Center formed in 2005 under Time Out's umbrella.

Christy Walton, the center's program director and forensic interviewer, starts with the fact-finding interview to explore the victim's experiences.

"The key to it is it's just real non-traumatizing. It's very victim-friendly," Walton said.

Walton forwards the report generated from the interview to government agencies that decide whether to prosecute.

Child sexual abuse cases comprise a majority of the center's clients. On-staff advocates prepare victims for trial, if necessary.

"If it does go to trial, the victims aren't going to be blindsided by not knowing what to expect," Walton said. "It's pretty intimidating to be in a court."

Medical exams help build court cases, too. The center will soon receive a new, cutting-edge digital imaging camera, the first of its kind in the state, to complement the exams.

The center also educates as part of its mission. Giving parents material helps jump-start conversations with their children about appropriate behavior and eases cultural inhibitions that often cast shame on the topic, Walton said.

"This is such a difficult crime because it's so secretive."

A quote provided by a former shelter resident illuminates the impact of Time Out.

"Because of the abuse, I lost everything that I'd worked my whole life to achieve. It was in this sad and desperate state that I contacted the Time Out shelter ...

"I found understanding, love, education and support on my long, hard journey. I will never be the person that I was prior to the abuse."

"We hear all the stories," Walton said. "To be in a situation where you can help, that's pretty exciting."

Upcoming Time Out activities include a Cut-a-thon on July 26 where proceeds from the $10 haircuts available will benefit the organization.

On Sept. 27, support Time Out by attending a fund-raising banquet at the Mazatzal Casino. Details are not yet available.

The thrift store is always looking for volunteers. Those wishing to donate gently used clothes or household items can call the store at (928) 472-8007.

Furniture pickup is available. Call the thrift store to set up an appointment.

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