APD, YAP get $242K to assist domestic violence, sexual assault victims

Published 3:20 am Saturday, June 1, 2019

Some $242,611 will soon be available to provide continued services for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking in Covington County.

Andalusia Police Chief Paul Hudson, along with Youth Advocate Programs (YAP) Adult Services Director Amanda Cook, announced Friday they have received funding from the State of Alabama through the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, Victims of Crime Act (VOCA).

“The City of Andalusia and the South Alabama Victim Services Collaborative (SAVSC) partner with YAP to create survivors in Covington County,” Hudson said. “It is our goal that our clients no longer be victims by transitioning them from a dependency way of life with their abuser to being self-sufficient and successful on their own.”

Cook, whose office is located on Sixth Avenue behind Andalusia City Hall, said services provided are tailored to the specific needs of each client and range from assisting with providing emergency transportation, life skills, education completion assistance, providing court advocacy, assisting clients with processing the necessary paperwork to complete Protection From Abuse affidavits, assisting with locating and transportation to emergency shelters, emergency food/clothing, and counseling and employment services. YAP provides holistic, wraparound services to suit the needs of each client and family and remaining true the organization’s “no reject, no eject,” meaning no clients are turned away once referred for services.

“We are grateful to offer these services our clients free of charge,” Cook said. “Our service delivery is 24-hours-a-day 7, 365. We’re available for our victims on scene, in the office during working hours and long after traditional working hours are over. Our overall program goal is to assist victims and their families in being able to get on their own feet; be able to have their own home and not have to rely on an offender to provide financially for them.”

Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson said he was “very pleased to learn of the funding from ADECA to continue this important work in our community.”

Hudson said victims referred for VOCA-funded services in Covington County come from those seen by the Andalusia, Opp and Florala Police Departments; the Covington County Sheriff’s Office; municipal court systems; the Covington County Department of Human Resources and the Andalusia Ministerial Association. Referrals for VOCA services also are accepted from local healthcare providers such as Andalusia Health and Mizell Memorial Hospital, local community organizations, as well as from self-referrals at the local YAP office.

Sheriff Blake Turman also expressed his gratitude for the funding.

“I’m excited to be able to pool resources with the (APD) and be awarded this grant,” Turman said. “The VOCA grant is paramount to assist victims and to let victims know there is help out there. I am thankful to the APD staff for heading up the charge in this project.”

Opp Police Chief Kevin Chance echoed the sentiment.

“The Opp Police Department is always willing to assist victims in getting needed services, and the VOCA project, with our local law enforcement and partners, is a perfect example of meeting the needs of our communities,” Chance said.

Hudson expressed his thanks to the following community partners for their donation of time: Travis Catrett, who teaches self-defense; Wyatt Sasser, who provides instruction for home maintenance/repairs; Delicia McGhee, who provides art therapy; Keith Stephens, who provides basic first aid; Heath Harper, who provides basic car maintenance and repair instruction; Melinda Martin, who offers personal care/hygiene advice; Tawona Ryce, who offers personal fitness and nutrition tips; Dr. Amanda Inabinett, who offers job preparation and resume building skills; and Carolyn Graham with Southern Independent Bank, who offers financial literacy and household budgeting.

In addition to those donating time for professional and personal development, others who provided additional donations of support for this funding opportunity includes, the City of Florala, the Andalusia Ministerial Association, Andalusia Christian Service Center, and the City of Andalusia.

“Without their help – and an award of much needed and appreciated funding made by the Solon and Martha Dixon Foundation to enhance service delivery, and all of our local collaborative partners and supporting citizens – we could not make this project a success,” Hudson said. “We are truly grateful for their generosity.”