By MEGAN HUSSEY
More than 72,000 adult and child abuse victims in the United States receive domestic violence services in a single average day, according to the National Network to End Domestic Violence. And locally, the Dawn Center for Domestic and Sexual Violence served more than 1,900 survivors in Hernando County last year alone. Now, the center who helps so many itself will receive a helping hand.
The Mary Kay Foundation, a subsidiary of Mary Kay Inc. cosmetics, has given the Dawn Center a $20,000 unrestricted grant to support local survivors of domestic violence in Hernando County; designating the center among the 100 agencies nationwide awarded a total of $2 million in grants through the foundation in support of October's Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
"The award is to help with operational costs of Dawn Center’s many intervention services to include the 24/7 helpline, 40 bed crisis shelter, and outreach services that include support groups, legal support, and counseling," explained Shannon Sokolowski, MNM, Executive Director of Dawn Center. "The emergency shelter, in particular, has run at or over capacity for most of this year. When the shelter is full, the cost of everything is more (food, supplies, and utilities)."
Sokolowski says that the Dawn Center, which has served Hernando County since 1993, is receiving more requests for shelter and assistance as the community grows. And as the need for services grows, she said that she was "surprised and elated" to receive the Mary Kay grant.
"Anytime you write for a grant you are hopeful, but I was also realistic about the competitive nature of a nation-wide contest like The Mary Kay Foundation," she said. "After recently investing our reserve funds into opening a legal office in Brooksville, our agency knew we were coming into a particularly tight budget year. Learning of the award was an immediate relief that the risk we had taken in expanding our services was absolutely worth it!"
Sokolowski says that she is grateful that The Mary Kay Foundation, who estimates that it will serve more than 399,000 women and their families through its domestic violence support grants this year, "has risen to help meet that need in our community”--but that more help is needed.
"The shelter is always in need of household supplies like paper products, cleaning products, new (packaged) undergarments in all sizes, non-perishable food items, and/or gift cards or monetary donations to cover the cost of fresh foods for shelter or transportation costs to help survivors get to needed appointments," she said.
Donors or prospective volunteers can contact [email protected] or (352) 639-0892 to make arrangements to donate.
The Mary Kay Foundation reveals that an average of more than 11,000 requests for domestic violence services go unfulfilled due to a lack of resources. Shannon Sokolowski and the staff at the Dawn Center are determined to ensure that this does not happen in Hernando County.
"We never want to turn anyone away from help," she said. "And this grant ensures we won’t need to!"
For more information, visit www.dawncenter.org.