by Cori Hilsgen
One in three women in the United States will experience domestic violence in her lifetime, most of these victims between the ages of 20 and 24, according to the nonprofit Safe Horizon.
Sandy Nadeau, director of Development and Communications of Anna Marie’s Alliance, recently spoke at a St. Joseph Y2K Lions meeting about services the organization provides to the area and needs for funding.
At the August meeting, St. Joseph Y2K Lions donated $1,276.72 from a recent brat sale fundraiser to the Alliance. Nadeau said funds donated will be directed to the Alliance’s Building Hope Capital Campaign. Funding to the campaign will help them expand and remodel their facility.
“We as a club thought it was very important to support this cause to help women, children and families in need,” said Kay Lemke, club president.
Some of the things Nadeau shared include that the Alliance has 36 beds in their shelter that are almost always full. The average number of women served in Anna Marie’s Shelter every year is 250 and the average number of children served every year is 250. There is a licensed daycare center on site.
The alliance can shelter five dogs and five cats along with families. Often, people do not want to leave an abusive situation if it means leaving a pet behind.
On average, the alliance reaches 7,500 school students each year, teaching about nonviolence and relationships.
Anna Marie On-Scene Advocates often assist and help victims of domestic violence navigate the criminal justice system in Stearns and Benton counties. Advocates were called to assist 452 times from October 2017 to June 30, 2018.
Violence against women may occur mostly behind closed doors and is the third leading cause of homelessness among families.
Sixty percent of domestic violence happens at home. Girls who witness domestic violence and don’t receive help are more likely to enter an abusive relationship as a teen.
Without intervention, boys from families of domestic violence are far more likely to become abusers as teens and adults.
According to the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women, at least 24 people lost their lives to domestic violence in 2017, 21 people in 2016, 34 people in 2015 and 23 in 2014.
The impact of domestic violence filters into many aspects of cities. Law enforcement, health care, businesses and schools deal with the immediate and long-term effects of relationship violence. Women and children suffer devastating physical, emotional and mental wounds that often take years to heal.
Expansion, renovation project
Anna Marie’s Alliance, which has been in operation for 40 years, has begun a Building Hope Capital Expansion and Renovation project to improve services to effectively meet the needs of women and children, safety and security, and support the expansion of violence-prevention efforts in the area.
The project will consolidate best practices, create cost-saving measures and improve overall program effectiveness.
The project will enable Anna Marie’s Alliance to expand its prevention efforts and work toward a vision where domestic violence does not exist.
The Building Hope Capital Expansion and Renovation project will:
Expand the current facility:
• Create a separate entrance for residents and the public to provide enhanced security, ensurimg client confidentiality and safety.
The addition of a second entrance will eliminate potential for breach of confidentiality and increase safety for women and children. Staff, board members and visitors will use one entrance while the second entrance will be used by shelter residents, adding another level of privacy and safety. Currently, everyone uses a single entrance.
• Construct a Center for Family Peace, which will offer educational options to staff, nonresidents and the area and provide additional space for nonresidential services and prevention education, growing needs for the Alliance and the area.
The Center for Family Peace will be created as a place for additional services to be provided to nonresidents where people of all ages can gather to learn about alternatives to violence and organizations can come together to form collaborative partnerships to work toward a violence-free area.
• Consolidate all staff at one location, increasing organizational effectiveness, efficiencyand productivity.
Remodel the current facility:
• Move from communal living to apartment-style living where residents will have individual living and dining spaces.
Instead of the current shared living spaces, residents will have independent, apartment-like rooms. This is a best practice for domestic abuse shelters promoting greater empowerment and autonomy for women and their children.
• Reconfigure space in the shelter to provide residents with easier access to advocates to achieve a more client-centered program.
A centrally located place for advocates and residents to meet will improve programming allowing for a more client-centered approach, while increasing confidentiality and accessibility.
Anna Marie’s Alliance, formerly Central Minnesota Task Force on Battered Women, incorporated in October 1978, to provide safe shelter for abused women and their children in Central Minnesota. The shelter first opened in a small three-bedroom home where demand for services required constant growth. After several remodels, a 36-bed facility renamed Anna Marie’s Shelter was opened in January 2000. Since 1979, Anna Marie’s Shelter has housed more than 15,904 women and children.
The mission of Anna Marie’s Alliance is “to provide a safe place for victims of domestic abuse and to achieve systems change that reduces violence.”
For additional information, call 320-251-7203 or visit the annamaries.org website. There is also a 24-hour hotline at 320-253-6900.
Author: Cori Hilsgen
Hilsgen is a contributing reporter for the Newsleaders. The central Minnesota native is a wife, mother and grandmother. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Management and Communication from Concordia University – St. Paul, MN and enjoys learning about and sharing other people’s stories through the pages of the Newsleaders.