YADKINVILLE — Yadkin County residents who are victims of domestic violence have access to a number of vital services through the Yadkin Family Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault program, including placement in a shelter. However, there is not a shelter in Yadkin County and it is a need that a new group, known as the Sparrow’s House, is hoping to fulfill.
“There is a definite need for a [domestic violence] shelter in Yadkin County,” said Jennifer Bowman, executive director for the Sparrow’s House. “Currently there is not a shelter in Surry, Yadkin or Stokes counties, so for the three surrounding counties which we will serve, the need is very great.”
According to Melissa Hanks, program coordinator for the Yadkin Family Domestic Violence program, the group handled 464 crisis calls from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2013, and served 165 individuals who came directly to the office. Five people were referred to shelters in other counties in that six-month period.
Hanks said that while the group provides many needed services for victims of abuse, a local shelter would be an asset.
“Whenever someone needs a shelter, shelters in other counties are always willing to work with us,” Hanks said. “We never have to turn anyone away, they can still go to a shelter in another county. However, it would be much more feasible for so many victims to have a shelter here in Yadkin County because it would be close to where they live, where their children go to school and where they work. It would definitely be very beneficial.”
In the summer of 2013, a group of individuals seeking to create a domestic violence shelter in the county, created a Facebook page so they could share their mission with the public. Bowman, a survivor of domestic violence, found the page and got involved with the group. Since that time, the Sparrow’s House has become incorporated, passed by-laws and established a board. They are also in the process of obtaining a 501(c)3 non-profit license.
The group anxiously is awaiting approval of their non-profit status so they can begin fundraising. At this point, the Sparrow’s House is seeking to make connections in the community and create awareness about domestic violence and the need for a shelter in the area.
Brown pointed out the significant increase in domestic violence calls that came in to the Yadkin County Sheriff’s Office in the 2012-2013 fiscal year, according to the county’s 2013 annual report.
“We are working with the surrounding communities and law enforcement to get this going,” Bowman said. “Our main goal right now is to find a home in which to have the shelter. We are hoping that someone would have a four- to five-bedroom home that they would donate for the shelter.”
Brown said one important thing for the community to be aware of was the many forms that domestic violence can take and the fact that it can affect men and women of all ages.
“I think a lot of people in the community fail to see domestic violence because they are looking for black eyes and bruises. Domestic violence is not just black eyes and bruises, it’s mental, it’s physical, it’s emotional. Most people hide it because they are ashamed.”
Brown said the shelter’s main goal will be to provide a safe place for men or women affected by abuse to stay and begin to get back on their feet. Domestic violence counseling, skills classes, educational classes and assistance in getting their own vehicle, home and other needs are all things the shelter will provide its clients.
“Most people come in to a shelter with nothing but the clothes on their back. Usually the abuser is a controller and everything is in his or her name and so we try to build them up and support them and get them out there to be independent individuals,” Bowman said.
For more information about the Sparrow’s House, visit www.facebook.com/AShelterInYadkinCounty or email Jennifer Bowman at firstname.lastname@example.org. For assistance with a domestic violence situation, contact the Yadkin Family Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault program crisis line at 336-679-2072.
Kitsey E. Burns can be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter @RippleReporterK.