Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

October 22, 2013

Safe Passage: Say 'no more' to domestic violence

Debbie Blank The Herald-Tribune
The Batesville Herald-Tribune

---- — Safe Passage leaders are working to raise awareness “about the frightening reality that one in four families experiences domestic violence, regardless of income, education, religion, age or any other factor,” noted executive director Jane Yorn.

In observation of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, officials are hosting a No More Purple Ribbon Campaign in the five counties the Batesville-based nonprofit serves – Franklin, Ripley, Dearborn, Ohio and Switzerland. Purple ribbons are being displayed during October on both city-owned properties and near businesses that are partnering with the organization to say “no more” to violence.

Yorn shared, “Safe Passage helped a record number of victims create new lives of safety, self-sufficiency and hope last year. Our resources support individuals and families in every neighborhood, business, school and church. “

How full is the center now? She answered, “We have been at capacity, many times with a waiting list, for most of the past five months. To give you an idea of how busy we are, just in the past 30 days, we have had 35 different individuals in shelter!”

The 2012-13 Service Summary shows Safe Passage sheltered 156 clients (an 18 percent increase over the year before) and aided an additional 105 who didn’t need shelter, but outreach support services. “Both our shelter and outreach services have been running at or near capacity for many months,” the director said.

The number of adults and children served through all resources (residential shelter, outreach services and the crisis helpline) was 723. Ninety-five children lived in the shelter with an average stay of 28 days.

“We provided 401 area teens with dating violence programs and provided 134 community education and training programs for more than 3,200 area residents,” Yorn added.

Over the past 16 years, Safe Passage has assisted thousands of victims of domestic violence through advocacy, confidential emergency housing, comprehensive case management, counseling and other direct services and support. Outreach programming provides education and training to law enforcement, professional and community groups as well as teen dating violence programs for any southeast Indiana school.

The Web site www.safepassageinc.org and live toll-free HelpLine (877-733-1990 or locally 933-1990) offer 24/7 direction and support for anyone seeking information about domestic violence and available resources. All Safe Passage services are confidential and free of charge.

The facility has eight full-time and five part-time employees, as well as three college interns. Fifty-one formal, trained volunteers and 108 others who are “special agents” for specific needs and services also assist. More volunteers are sought to answer phone calls and do other office tasks, transport clients and help with children’s programs. Persons may sign up by calling the same phone number and speaking to administrative assistant Donna Huffmaster.

Workers and volunteers are supported by 2014 officers: President Dan Mattingly, Batesville; Vice President Beth Enneking, Batesville; Treasurer James Anderson, Batesville; and Secretary Bryan Messmore, Lawrenceburg. Other board members who meet every other month are Trish Hunter, Nancy Marticke and Sister Barbara Piller, Batesville; Tina Bojack and Angela Scudder, Lawrenceburg; and Mick Wilz, Brookville.

The annual budget is $500,890 for the 2013-14 fiscal year, “slightly less than last year since we have anticipated federal funding cuts.”

The director acknowledged the Ripley County Community Foundation, Franklin County Community Foundation, Dearborn Community Foundation, Ohio County Community Foundation and Rising Sun Regional Foundation, which granted the nonprofit a combined total of more than $73,000 for capital improvements this year.

Other funding sources are the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Hillenbrand Inc., MainSource Bank, Margaret Mary Health, United Way of Franklin County, Brookville Foundation, Stayin’ Alive Local Coordinating Council, Ripley County Local Coordinating Council, Dearborn County CASA, Avon, Leona Hahn Charitable Trust, Ripley County, Franklin County, Switzerland County, Dearborn County and City of Rising Sun.

“Several churches and other faith-based groups have made regular financial commitments and, of course, many, many wonderful individuals,” Yorn said. “Other local businesses donate services and goods that help support our efforts and allow us to help offset our operating costs.”

Area supporters may send tax-deductible checks to Safe Passage, P.O. Box 235, Batesville, IN 47006; or donate through the Web site.

The list of needed items “just changes daily,” reported the director. Now in demand are size 5 diapers and pull-ups (”we currently have 12 kiddos in the shelter and 10 of them are under age 6!”), forehead thermometer strips, children’s sippy cups that will not spill, fuel or grocery gift cards and stamps. Persons who wish to contribute new or used items may call the facility to learn what is needed or enlist in Huffmaster’s Kindness Network by e-mailing her at dhuffmaster@safepassageinc.org.

Yorn explained, “We really don’t solicit donated items because we don’t have storage (space), but we encourage folks to donate to Twice Blessed Resale Shop, Batesville, or Open Door Thrift Store, Aurora, which partner with us to provide for our client needs.”

Persons who want Safe Passage updates and quarterly newsletters may e-mail jyorn@safepassageinc.org.

Debbie Blank can be contacted at debbie.blank@batesvilleheraldtribune.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.

First in a two-part series • Part 2: One client's story, Oct. 25