Service Changes For Range Women's Advocates

By KBJR News 1

July 18, 2011 Updated Jul 18, 2011 at 10:52 PM CDT

VIRGINIA, MN (Northland's NewsCenter)---In cases of domestic violence and abuse, non–profit agencies can be lifelines for those in need.

Range Women's Advocates in Virginia is making a change they say will improve the way it provides supportive services for victims.

In 2010, nearly 850 domestic violence victims sought after services from the Range Women's Advocates.

Since the organizations start in 1978, it's run under a collective management style.

With the help of a $20,000 grant from the Northland Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping secure human needs, the Range Women's Advocates has switched gears and now operates under a director.

"They are about to probably take more budget cuts, which is from the state and the federal conversation, so they have to be very tightly organized to deliver the best services they can," Kathy Keeley of the Northland Foundation said.

New management is working to refine job descriptions and funding sources to develop a clearer agency budget.

Along with detailing existing services, new services will also be brought to the table.

"Financial empowerment, which is a key service in assisting women to gain financial support so they are able to move forward in their lives," Kathleen Cerra-Vraa, the Interim Executive Director said.

When unemployment rates drop, the advocacy says it sees an increase in the number of woman seeking its services.

The advocacy works alongside the police department to arrange court hearings and other legal referrals such as Protection and Restraining Orders.

"It occurs more often than I think people realize," Detective Tim Koivunen of the Virginia Police Department said. "Our department deals with domestic violence on a daily basis. Range Women's Advocates is another avenue for victims of domestic abuse, and I think it gives the victims another avenue or opportunity to get assistance when I don't think they have it at home."

Advocates help victims develop a safety plan specific to each situation.

"They'll take you wherever you are at," Barb Wojciak, a Chair Member on the Range Women's Advocates Board said. "You can come back as many times as you want to come back but they are always there for you."

Range Women's Advocates is also working toward a two year Danger Team project under a larger Coordinated Community Response team to help hold batterers more accountable for their actions.

Posted to the web: Jennifer Walch