ERIC SPRUILL

IOLA – Hope Unlimited, the area’s only program for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, will soon receive a windfall of nearly $250,000 – but there are strings attached.  

The organization serves the four-county region of Allen, Anderson, Neosho and Woodson Counties and will receive a $247,176 grant from the state due to the rising number of domestic violence and sexual assault cases during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Gov. Laura Kelly announced on Monday the 2021 State General Fund (SGF) Grant Programs funding awards for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Programs and Children’s Advocacy Centers (CAC), and the 2021 awards for the Federal Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FFVPSA) grant program. 

Hope Unlimited was one of the recipients of all three grants.

While it looks like a lot of money, Hope Unlimited director Dorothy Sparks, said the numbers are a bit misleading.

“We are thrilled to receive the grants. They help us keep our doors open and allow us to serve the four-county area. However, it’s a little misleading. In order to receive that amount of money, we have to have that amount of money raised and we have to have those expenses. In other words, it’s a reimbursement grant,” Sparks said.

Hope Unlimited can receive as much as $149,609 from the SGF grant, $51,327 for the CAC grant, and $46,240 from the FFVPSA grant.

In order to put all that money to use, the organization must raise up to $247,176.

Sparks further explained that Hope Unlimited has seen an increase in cries for help in the last few months.

“Initially when COVID-19 started, goiwng back to March, we had a couple of months that were really quiet. Nobody really knew what was going on, they just knew they had to stay home. But since July, our numbers have increased dramatically. We went from around 114 crisis calls to where we now average 162 calls per month,” she said. “What this grant will do is allow us to have outreach workers in all of the areas we serve. We have been fortunate enough to have an outreach worker strictly dedicated to Neosho County.”

The pandemic has also restricted the number of people for which they can provide shelter. 

“We can currently shelter 12 people, which is down significantly. We had to get rid of the bunk beds due to social-distancing rules and we had to spread each bed out six feet or more,” Sparks said. “We are full most every night.”

Gov. Kelly said incidents of domestic violence and sexual assault crimes are increasing across the state.

“COVID-19 has kept us in our homes more than usual, and for some households, this has worsened the forces of domestic violence and sexual assault,” Kelly said.  “We have a responsibility to do all we can to protect vulnerable Kansans, and I am hopeful this grant money will provide support to those who need assistance and assurances of safety the most.”

According to the governor’s office, SGF Domestic Violence funds support the enhancement and expansion of sexual and domestic violence programs. The funds are used for support services, outreach and training for community-based programs located in large and small communities across Kansas. These programs provide services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including emergency safe shelter, crisis helpline calls, crisis intervention, on-going counseling and support, and advocacy to help victims and survivors increase safety for themselves and their families. 

The SGF CAC awards are made to initiate, enhance or expand children’s advocacy centers. The funding supports child-focused, community-oriented programs that coordinate investigation and intervention services for abused children by bringing together professionals and agencies in a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary model.

The Federal FVPSA grant program funds community-based nonprofit domestic violence organizations. These organizations provide outreach, shelter, support groups, crisis intervention, advocacy in obtaining protection from abuse orders, court accompaniment, transportation, and prevention education in schools and communities.

The SGF grant funds also are used to leverage federal funds, including FFVPSA funds, to help expand services and improve responses across the state. Without these funds, millions of federal dollars would not be available to help these vulnerable families or to increase safety in Kansas communities.

 

 

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