Rim Country’s only domestic violence shelter hopes private donors can help make up for public cuts to shore up a program that in the past year has provided 10,000 nights of shelter for women and children fleeing abusive relationships.
The Time Out Shelter will hold a candlelight vigil and walk for the victims of domestic violence, which Payson Police Chief Don Engler recently reported was one of the few types of crime that has been increasing during the recession.
Marchers will gather at the Payson Town Hall at 5:45 p.m. on Thursday and then at 6, start walking south on the Beeline Highway to Payson United Methodist Church. At the church, a survivor will tell her story.
Then on Oct. 24 at The Rim Club, the shelter will host its major annual fund-raising banquet with $35-per-person tickets and a silent auction.
The shelter this year has become even more dependent on money from private donors to run its emergency, short-term shelter, it’s long-term transitional housing program, counseling services and the family advocacy center, where trained counselors interview children who have been abused in a safe setting.
“We’ve been cutting so much,” said shelter director Gerry Bailey, “so the donations have become more important than ever.”
Last year, the state Department of Economic Security cut $30,000 from the shelter’s budget at the tail end of the fiscal year, forcing staff layoffs and across-the-board cuts.
This year, the shelter expects an additional 4 percent cut —which came on top of last year’s 12 percent cut.
Shelter advocates worry that they may face yet another mid-year cut on top of that reduction if the state’s budget continues to deteriorate.
The shelter represents a desperate last hope for many women and children in Rim Country, where domestic violence calls come in every week.
Statistically, domestic violence calls are the most dangerous calls for police to answer.
One woman who found shelter at Time Out wrote “thank you for helping piece my broken-hearted life back together. When I came to Time Out two months ago, I was homeless, frightened and had nowhere to turn. My first night was the first time in almost three years that I drifted off to sleep easily and felt safe.”
The shelter’s budget now totals just over $800,000, much of it from state contracts — but an increasing share from donations.
“We did receive some new contributors,” said Bailey, “which has just helped us immensely.”
She noted that the recession has boosted the number of calls — but reduced slightly the number of women actually seeking shelter.
“Sometimes the women are calling to talk about their situation, but they’re concerned about leaving right now. If they already have a job, they’re concerned about losing it if they leave.
“(They are) also concerned they might lose their housing if they leave.
“The economic climate has really complicated safety for women.”
On the other hand, the financial pressure often increases anger and violence within families already dealing with abuse.
“Financial stress is not the sole cause of abuse, but it’s a complicating factor.
“If the abusive tendencies are already there and they show no control of their behaviors — and they are behaviors that can be controlled — financial stress can certainly worsen the situation.”