SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Your tax money is helping keep domestic violence victims safe.
“He got out and he was asking my friends my whereabouts so I decided to come back into shelter,” recalled Christina Jacobs. The YWCA quite literally saved her life, first in its shelter, and then in one of the facility’s 20 transitional housing units in Springfield. “Domestic violence is a very serious matter and they taught me that everyone deserves to be treated with respect and some people out there don’t do that, but it’s not my fault for what he did. It’s his actions. Not mine,” Jacobs added. She has custody of her five-year-old daughter again and is looking for work.
Each day, women walk through the doors at the YWCA. Some are brought here in police cars from emergency rooms. Others from dangerous domestic violence situations. They’re all seeking a safe place to live. Hundreds of people each year stay in the shelter. Others apply for the transitional housing. Those services, and staff, require money. The YWCA is a nonprofit organization, so it relies heavily on your tax money, in the form of grants. “We desperately need this money to keep these programs going, so we’re thrilled,” said YWCA of Western Massachusetts Director Elizabeth Dineen. The YWCA of Western Massachusetts was awarded $300,370 dollars in federal tax money from the Office on Violence Against Women and the U.S. Department of Justice.
“It’s really a nice opportunity to understand how the Department of Justice and the federal government help provide a safety net for those who for whatever reason find themselves outside of the mainstream of American life,” said U.S. Congressman Richard Neal.
The money will fund the next three years of programs and staff for 110 women and their children in transitional housing. Thirty percent of the women’s income pays for transitional housing. On average, women can transition in and out of the YWCA in about 120 days.
“They need a new beginning and we focus on getting them that,” said Doris Gonzalez, a support specialist at the YWCA who helps women learn skills in finding a job, home and resources. There is a computer lab with 16 computers to help women search for jobs.
By the time women leave transitional housing, they will have a job, enrolled school and have a permanent, safe home.