Crisis Center anticipates residential shelter status

Pictured are, left to right: Lisa Krejci, Imelda Gomez, Cindy Rodriguez, Donna Fisher and Terry Villanueva. Not pictured is Shawnene Edmondson.

Pictured are, left to right: Lisa Krejci, Imelda Gomez, Cindy Rodriguez, Donna Fisher and Terry Villanueva. Not pictured is Shawnene Edmondson.

Since its formation in 1992, the Atascosa Family Crisis Center has provided much needed, valuable services to its clients. Over the years, it has seen several changes.

August 14 will mark one year since Donna Fisher was named the sole executive director of the agency. She and the staff are looking forward to Aug. 7, the date when the center will close on a new facility. This will finally make the center a residential shelter.

At a recent Atascosa County Commissioner’s Court meeting, the county voted to donate $20,000 toward the purchase of the new building.

“I spoke with Atascosa County Judge Bob Hurley about a month ago and he asked me to do a presentation,” said Fisher.

The center had started making negotiations with the church and Hurley requested that the county match what the City of Pleasanton had given.

The center has a loan for $224,000 that was just approved, explained Fisher. The actual cost of the church was $350,000, but it was negotiated down to $280,000.

“With the donations that we have, we have enough for the down payment. The loan was approved on Friday for the balance. The goal of course, is to get rid of that balance. So I am going to continue to visit with folks and ask that donations be made. Our grants won’t help us pay for that. Our operating expense donations will end up having to help us pay our mortgage, unless we get that mortgage paid off.”

Along with that $224,000, the center must meet the list of code requirements from the City of Pleasanton. They will need a licensed contractor to help with those items. Most of it is electrical and meeting ADA requirements. They also need to remodel the kitchen and purchase appliances. The center is hoping that someone will generously donate their services.

Fisher hopes to at least be ready to move part of the office at the end of August.

Their present lease is up at the end of September. Fisher’s goal is to be fully operational at the new location by Oct. 1.

“Once that is completed and moved in, we want to have an adopt-a-room program and get some community assistance in creating the bedrooms. There are actually 10 classrooms at this time that we will be converting into bedrooms.”

They plan to make some lists of what all they will need for the rooms, blankets, beds, etc.

To help raise funds a Car Wash/Bake Sale Fundraiser is set for Aug. 8 at Prosperity Bank, 1112 W. Oaklawn in Pleasanton. Come out between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and get your car washed. While you wait, you can satisfy your sweet tooth with treats from the bake sale. Volunteers are needed to assist with the benefit, along with anyone who wishes to donate baked goods.

They are also holding a raffle drawing with 45 prizes. Prizes include a three day, two night stay in Port Aransas, Yeti Cooler, $25 Cafe Chris gift card, $50 Mary Kay gift certificate, $25 Wood Shop gift card and much more!

The center also holds other fundraisers, such as their annual ball and poinsettia sale. Their focus is on earning money for the mortgage and on the code requirements.

“Everything we do here right now, we can continue to do with the grants that we have. In order to add services and pay off the building, we are going to have to get more private funding, more community funding,” added Fisher.

She is still waiting on some pending grants. Some of those are for paying off the building.

Receiving residential shelter status is greatly needed.

“Right now we are nonresidential. The difference means, people will be able to spend the night there or live there short term. We are basing that on 30 days at a time, so if someone comes to us needing a place to stay, we will be able to provide that.”

The intake process will be the same. They will decide what services the client needs and get them in the right direction. They will have that 30 day window to work on getting a job and getting themselves established in the community.

They will then do a reassessment and they will never just kick someone out.

“They will have to work the program, as much as the program is working for them. If that is happening, then we would extend it another 30 days. I am sure we will have the same situation where we have to get folks out of town. We will continue to be able to do that as well. The difference is that 80 percent of our clients that go back to the abuser because they have no place to go, will now have a place to go. They will have an option that does not include going back to the abuser.”

The new location will still have a walk-in office. It will, however, have a residential area that others cannot go into. Fisher plans to have more law enforcement making their rounds and more participation bringing survivors to them and keeping an eye out.

“We will still have the non-residential area operating out of the same building, so in the interior we will need some type of separation.”

The center staff is currently six. Once it receives the residential shelter status, they will be required to be on staff 24-7.

Staff is 6. Once folks stay, they have to have staff 24-7. They are looking at possibly having parttime positions to close that gap. Otherwise, they would have three people there every day: one person on a 24 hour shift with two 8 hours shifts.

Fisher is also keeping in mind that she cannot request a grant for a residential shelter, until they have actually run as a residential shelter for a full year. In other words, if they are a residential shelter Oct. 1, she must wait until Oct. 1, 2016 to request residential grant money. The would cover additional staff, food, electrical bills, etc. Naturally, those expenses will increase with their new status.

“We will still get the same grant money we do now, but we will have to work harder on fundraisers and donations because of the added expenses. We are hoping for more food drives and we will contact the churches. We have so many churches in town that are good with donations. We are hoping they will maybe up that amount.”

Fisher also wants to get people to consider helping to fund the shelter throughout the enter year, not just holidays.

“Some give once a year and that is awesome and wonderful, but we need them to think about it throughout the year. We need more volunteers helping out, even just answering the phone. We could use that to help cut some of our employee hours. we have so many ideas right now.”

She explained, “The same rules will apply. We are here for any and all surivors and victims of domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.

She said while they primarily focus on women and children, they also have clients that are men. Since it is possible that they will need to provide shelter for men, another section of the new building will be designated to the men’s room.

The center staff is looking forward to the new location, which is more within walking distance to shopping, the movies, schools, parks, the library and Workforce Center.

“That is really exciting because we provide a lot of transportation right now and the new location could cut down on that,” said Fisher.

Said staff member Lisa Krejci, “It will save on a lot of late night trips.”

Another staff member, Terry Villanueva shared a call she received from Seguin which broke her heart. It was someone who thought AFCC was already a residential shelter. They are all looking forward to being able to see a person’s finished result when it is residential and providing services greatly needed here.

If you are in need of their services, please contact the Atascosa Family Crisis Center at 830-569- 2001.

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