Despite funding cuts from the state and Vaya Health, Meridian is working hard to make sure the programs for domestic violence and sexual abuse offenders stay viable.
Haywood County native Robert Guinn leads a fairly normal life these days. He has a good attitude, a fulfilling job, a good circle of friends and loves bragging on his 14-year-old daughter.
By Julie Schroer • Guest Columnist
As April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, I want you to hang in there with me and to think about child abuse. Or do I? It is two sides of the same coin.
The reality is that it is not a topic that most people want to think about. And if you have thought about child abuse, it may be because at some point child abuse has affected you, your family or maybe your friends. If you haven’t thought about child abuse, it’s possible that you have not been faced with knowing that a child you love has been hurt. So, given those options, I choose this: think about abuse now so that each day we as a community and nation just might see fewer kids and families forced to think about abuse.
The staff of REACH of Macon County understands how difficult it is to leave your home, even under the most traumatic situations.
It’s been two-and-a-half years since cash flow problems forced Jackson County’s domestic violence and sexual abuse resource center to close its doors, and REACH of Jackson County has remained a dead organization ever since.
Proponents of domestic violence prevention are cheering following the launch of a federal law that will allow tribal courts to prosecute non-Indians who commit domestic violence on tribal land.
“It’s going to be a really good thing for the tribe,” said Bill Boyum, Chief Justice of the Cherokee Supreme Court.
For nearly a year, REACH of Macon County has been helping domestic abuse victims in Jackson County. The group has handled more than 400 cases in Jackson since last July.
“To be honest with you, we feel like that number should be higher,” Andrea Anderson, the group’s executive director, told the Jackson County commissioners recently. “We definitely have been talking and trying to figure out how to reach out to more victims.”
Fundraising for a $1.3-million shelter for victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse is underway in Macon County, with REACH of Macon County hoping to move to a new building by September 2015.
“This has been a dream from the beginning,” said Jennifer Turner-Lynn, prevention coordinator and incoming assistant director for REACH. “We’ve always wanted to build the shelter here, and we feel the time is right.”
The domestic violence nonprofit REACH of Macon County is facing a more than $80,000 shortfall next year due partly to state budget cuts and partly to repercussions of stepping up to the plate when assault victims in neighboring Jackson County had no one else to turn to.
Nearly a year has passed since a domestic violence support agency in Jackson County abruptly shut down under financial duress, and so far there’s no sign on the horizon of a new nonprofit to fill the void.
In the meantime, however, the domestic violence agency in Macon County stepped in and picked up the torch on an emergency — and presumably interim — basis.