In an effort to increase the organization’s outreach to rural parts of Lewis County, Kris Camenzind, executive director of Hope Alliance, presented to the Morton City Council on Monday.
The nonprofit is the county’s only 24/7, free and confidential crisis program for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Hope Alliance also provides legal aid for protection orders and divorces, along with services such as housing, medical advocacy, support during forensic interviews, support groups and prevention education.
Between the first weeks of January and March this year, the organization has assisted over 204 head-of-household adults.
However, as of the early renditions of the Legislature’s budgets this session, Camenzind said she was facing potential of a 30% budget cut, which would require her to lay off a third of Hope Alliance’s staff.
“I’m waiting to see what happens with the budget. We’d have to close. There’s just no way we could do 24/7 (operations),” Camenzind said, adding the 24/7 availability is a state requirement, with all counties needing to have at least one organization that performs this work.
She believes the initial budget proposals cut back domestic violence funding in simply an “oversight,” and Camenzind said she’s working with 20th District Reps. Peter Abbarno and Ed Orcutt to amend the error.
However, all the domestic violence (DV) programs in the state, Camenzind said, have to “share $6 million. We have not had an increase in DV funding since 2008 (at the state level).”
While organizations seek other grants and methods for funding, Camenzind continues to testify to legislators to increase this pot.
“I’m also applying for grants constantly,” Camenzind said.
Hope Alliance has an office in Centralia and can provide transportation for those who need it. Camenzind told the Morton councilors she’s extremely proud of the organization’s 89% success rate of getting survivors moved on to sustainable, affordable housing.
As for the other 11%, she said, it’s hard to say exactly what happens. Some will go back to live with an abusive partner while others, Camenzind said, will simply “leave in the middle of the night” without warning and cut contact with Hope Alliance staff.
Alongside crisis services, staff at the nonprofit help survivors to craft resumes, apply for benefits and seek stable employment.
“If you know of somebody that needs our services, please have them call,” Camenzind said. “They don’t have to identify themselves.”
To learn more about Hope Alliance, head to the nonprofit’s website at https://hopealliancelc.org/. The crisis line for victims of physical or sexual abuse, domestic violence or sexual assault is open 24/7 at 360-748-6601. The website also has links to donate and for people seeking a “quick escape.”
The Youth Advocacy Center of Lewis County offers these services for children and can be reached at 360-623-1990.