Organization to provide domestic violence support locally

Published 11:10 pm Friday, September 13, 2019

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For local women needing help escaping domestic violence, the Bethesda House plans to open its door by Thanksgiving.

New executive director Alison Jackson-Wood said she is excited about being able to help provide this valuable resource to the community.

“I’m really excited, I get to be at Bethesda House when you can see light at the end of the tunnel,” she said. “Going into the holiday season, it is prudent that we open. Holidays create stress and heighten situations. Sometimes people don’t behave well during the holidays and it creates an increased need.”

The local Bethesda House has been busy since 2015 working toward opening the domestic violence shelter in Opp.

Jackson-Wood said that after talking to other domestic violence shelters, she found that the group is right on time in the planning and implementation of the new shelter.

She said that it takes about five to seven years for most shelters to open.

Since the inception of the Bethesda House board, the group has worked tirelessly to renovate the site of the former Opportunity House, Jackson-Wood said.

Among the things undertaken have been:

• Safe removal of damaged furniture;

• Mold remediation throughout the interior of the home;

• Replacement of boarded windows with blinds;

• Plumbing, a new water heater and electrical work;

• Installation of a security system;

• Updated exterior paint;

• Renovation of three bathrooms, including creating a handicap accessible one;

• Removing hazardous deck/ramp structures;

• Building a new back deck and large ramp;

• Installing a children’s play area;

• Installing a new security fence around the perimeter of the property;

• Reroofing the main house and the apartment building.

Jackson-Wood said the organization will offer a variety of resources for those looking to restart their lives after domestic violence.

“First and foremost, we want to offer a safe and welcoming, nurturing environment,” she said.

But, they have goals beyond that.

“Anyone who comes needs the opportunity to have a case plan, set goals and support in achieving those goals,” she said. “We do not want a woman to leave before she is ready and equipped to sustain herself, otherwise, she could wind up back in a dangerous situation.”

She said they would connect women with resources such as counseling and therapy, employment opportunities, and education.

Jackson-Wood said the Bethesda House has the following short-term goals:

In the next six months to one year

o Increase fundraising efforts for various needs, including operating expenses, by establishing three annual Purple Lotus fundraising and community service events, beginning with the October 2019 Bethesda House BBQ

o Secure and train staff, volunteers, and trauma-trained service providers for residents

o Re-open Bethesda House for clients by Thanksgiving 2019

o Create a Bethesda House website

o Increase the Bethesda House presence with local media representatives

o Create social media pages and accounts to raise public awareness and provide community information and services

o Create and circulate a Bethesda House Newsletter

o Provide workshops for educators and students

o Participate in local events, festivals, and celebrations

o Develop social enterprise opportunities for BH residents.

Jackson-Wood plans to be proactive and write weekly informative pieces dealing with domestic violence in local newspapers around the county.