Our House Domestic Violence Shelter once again joined hands with comedians and community members for their second annual “Stand Up 4 Hope” fundraiser to end last week.
The event saw thousands of dollars raised and hundreds of guests entertained at the Cedartown Performing Arts Center on Jan. 25 as Kay Dodd and Kenn Kington were hailed with roars of laughter.
Though the event was about much more serious cause.
According to the most recent statistics provided by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) and Our House itself, intimate partner crime accounts for 15 percent of all violent crime, nearly 20 Americans are physically abused by an intimate partner every minute, and a woman is killed by an intimate partner in the United States every seven minutes.
Georgia itself saw 61,415 calls made to domestic violence crisis lines in 2014, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation reported that law enforcement officers responded to 68,313 family violence incidents in 2013 alone. A tough workload for a state with only 49 private and non-profit domestic violence shelters.
Fortunately for locals, one of those 49 shelters is in Polk County. Our House continues to provide temporary shelter, temporary protective orders, legal advocacy, references to support groups, referral services, and much more for those in need.
The group's 24-hour crisis line- 770-749-9330 - ensures help is always available and legal advocacy appointments can be scheduled at 770-748-6633.
Our House received approximately 1,358 crisis calls and sheltered 377 women and 271 children between July 2010 and June 2015. The group's legal advocate aided 353 victims in obtaining temporary and permanent protective orders.
Those interested in more information can visit https://www.facebook.com/polkcountyourhouse/.
The accolades of the shelter are to be commended, but it stays open in part thanks to the contributions of locals. Those who purchased a ticket to the January 25 comedy show aided the shelter's mission.
The exact amount of money raised was yet to be confirmed, but Our House Executive Director Kelsei Poulin offered some insight into what the funds would be used for, as well as details on how to contribute.
“The money will go to day to day operations- anything that our grants don't cover,” Poulin said. “This will fill in with client assistance and just bills. We always need donations. Anything that it takes to start a household. We can take donations at the thrift store- that's 504 S. Main St. in Cedartown- they can drop off any donations there, and if they want to drop off particular donations that go to the shelter, they can let the thrift store staff know it needs to go to the shelter. Paper products, personal care products- everything goes there and we pick it up.”
Poulin also shared a list of specific items they need more of but don't often receive- though any donations are welcome.
Those interested in volunteering or making a contribution can also call the administrative office at 770-748-2300.
“We definitely need new, unworn underwear and socks,” the director shared. “Deodorant. Male deodorant because we don't get a lot of that but we do get teenage boys. And sometimes we get men. We always go through baby items- diapers, wipes- that's an ongoing need.”
The event also served as a morale boost for those who may be struggling now.
Dodd, a survivor herself, spoke on her experience with domestic violence and demonstrated that there can be life and success after abuse via her performance.
When asked why the group decided to raise funds with a comedy show, Our House Board of Directors President Amy Thompson cited Dodd and her story as two reasons.
“One of our board members knows Kay,” Thompson mentioned. “If you listen to her, it's (comedy) just one of her passions. She's a survivor. She hopes to grow, and we hope to grow with her. We're gonna meet with her next week and see what went well this night and what didn't work and just start planning from there (for next year.)
Our House was organized in 1995 by a group of women who found the growing number of domestic violence incidents in Polk disturbing.
The team grew to over 50 volunteers before establishing a 24-hour crisis line, and the financial support of Polk citizens, as well as various state agencies, helped pave the way for Our House to be officially named a “safe house” by the Department of Human Services.
A life of fear and abuse is not the norm, and those in need are urged to contact the shelter.
“We look forward to serving our community, and we are here to help,” Poulin said.