DVSAC celebrates 35 years, raises funds for prevention programs | TheUnion.com

DVSAC celebrates 35 years, raises funds for prevention programs

Photo for The Union by John Hart.

One in five women will be sexually assaulted by the time they enter college.

That grim statistic is one that the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coalition is trying to change with its “$3,500 in 35 Days” fundraiser, which both celebrates the organization’s 35 years of operation and supports the different programs offered, especially the underfunded prevention program.

“We wanted to call attention to the fact that we’ve been here 35 years and are only here because the community continues to support us,” said Executive Director Gayle Guest-Brown.

“Our prevention program is what we hope to maintain. We need local support and donations to deal with the next generation.”

“A lot of businesses can’t stay open 35 years. It says a lot about our board of directors. With funding going up and down, they managed to keep this open …”

— Gayle Guest-Brown,
DVSAC executive director

Part of the prevention program includes meetings with high school students to teach healthy relationships and boundaries — important tools to break the cycle of domestic violence and sexual assault, Guest-Brown said.

With the expiration of the Safe Schools/Healthy Students grant that helped fund school safety programs, the coalition will have to reduce its 20 high school prevention meetings by more than half.

“We hope we raise enough money and get other prevention grants to continue to have those,” Guest-Brown said. “This will get us going.”

More than 80 percent of the coalition’s funds come from government grants, she said; 10 percent comes from foundations and 3 percent from private donations. A majority of the grants, which must be used for specific purposes, are designated for domestic violence; 23 percent go toward sexual assault intervention and only 14 percent to prevention.

“We need our community support anyway, but we particularly need (funding) there because our government grants and foundations do less than for prevention funding,” Guest-Brown explained.

For $3,500, the coalition can provide three sessions of school prevention programs in the form of 10-week girls circles and boy council groups.

“That’s where we touch the future, talking to our young folks and telling them about healthy relationships and boundaries and just to help them prepare so they don’t find themselves in situations,” she said.

In the past year, DVSAC served 504 domestic violence victims and 213 sexual assault victims, received 1,987 crisis line calls, funded 133 restraining orders and 1,791 shelter bed nights, half of which were children, Guest-Brown said, adding that when children grow up in households with violence, their models for healthy relationships can be skewed.

“We know homes are dealing with that. It’s a national average and it’s been that for a while,” Guest-Brown said. “Their first model of relationships is what they see at home. … To reset that and break the cycle on domestic violence, we need to get them to think about other possibilities, give models for what a healthy relationship looks like and bring their awareness up that you can choose to have a different life and live a different way. Just because you grew up with something doesn’t mean it’s what you want or need.”

For information, contact DVSAC at 530-272-2046 or visit http://www.dvsac.org/.

“A lot of businesses can’t stay open 35 years,” Guest-Brown said.

“It says a lot about our board of directors. With funding going up and down, they managed to keep this open for men, women and children. … We look forward to another 35 years, so let’s keep this going.”

To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email jterman@theunion.com or call 530-477-4230.

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