Erin’s Home, Washington City, Utah, May 7, 2015 | File photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
CITY OF WASHINGTON – A discussion for a proposed day of service at Erin’s Home in Washington City turned into an update of how the pandemic postponed the Dove Center’s efforts to renovate the facility, and how it also had a impact on certain aspects of the work of the nonprofit organization as a whole.
At a Washington City Council working meeting held last Wednesday, representatives from the Dove Center of St. George, a non-profit organization focused on supporting survivors of domestic violence and abuse and of sexual assault, approached council at the invitation of council member Kurt Ivie to begin discussing when the city could promote a day of service at Erin’s Home.
Erin’s Home, which opened in 2015, houses three transitional housing used by the Dove Center for women and their children who have escaped violent environments. The aim is to provide a safe place for survivors and their families to stay while they receive support, and possibly move to a more permanent housing situation when possible.
Currently, the backyard is flooded when heavy rains pass, Ivie said, and noted that her business would help address this issue. In addition to this, the Dove Center wants to install new play equipment in the backyard for the youngest who stay there. This would also include installing foam surface tiles in part of the backyard.
“We need help. We don’t need a document,” Madonna Melton, director of shelter and operations at the Dove Center, told the board. “We need a helping hand.”
The Dove Center lacks the expertise and manpower to set up the playground, Melton said, which is why a day of service is being offered. It is hoped that those community members who can lend this “helping hand” and who have the know-how to help with the installation of the tiles and the play area will come forward when the opportunity arises.
“There are a lot of people in our community who know how to do these things and are very generous,” said Ivie.
Before a date for the day of service can be finalized, however, some of the equipment and surface tiles must be funded and ordered. Melton did not seek funding from the city in this regard, but instead asked the council to promote this need to the wider community.
Dove Center officials are hopeful the flooding problem will be resolved and a new playground set up before an open house for Erin’s Home they have scheduled for early next year, said Lindsey Boyer, director. executive of the Dove Center.
Melton and Boyer both noted that when the Dove Center has a problem to fix, something happens that fixes it. The women added that they hope the trend continues as they seek help from the wider community.
“Things are going one way or another the way they have to and we’re just moving forward,” Boyer said.
Regarding a recent demonstration of community support, the Dove Center received a $ 30,000 donation from BlvdHome in March.
During a visit to Washington City Council on Wednesday, Boyer took the opportunity to brief council members on efforts to renovate Erin’s home and how it had been stranded due to the pandemic and related issues.
The Dove Center approached city council in January 2020 to request funding through a Community Development Block Grant, a federal grant that the city typically receives on an annual basis. The requested funding will go towards a renovation inside Erin’s Home that would create two additional family-sized transitional housing units on the ground floor.
The council approved a grant of more than $ 173,000 for the project in May 2020.
While the Dove Center issued public notices for contractors to bid on the project, no bids were made, Boyer said. Having an offer is a requirement to be able to use the federal grant money.
“As well as obtaining the grant has gone, the execution of the grant has become a bit bumpy due to the impact of the pandemic on the economy and the construction market,” he said. she declared.
This, combined with related factors such as supply chain disruptions and material shortages, has led to the postponement of the ground floor renovation of Erin’s Home for the time being, Boyer said. As for the grant the Dove Center received, they may have to withdraw it and apply for it again in two years, she said.
The Dove Center nonetheless got “creative” with funding, Boyer said, adding that the nonprofit had been able to secure a new transitional housing unit in the community for now, but that she still needed another.
The continued housing shortage further complicates the need to acquire additional units that can be converted into transitional housing.
“There is a huge gap, and it will continue to be until we have more housing units,” Boyer said.
Another aspect of the Dove Center’s mission that has grown due to the pandemic is the overall number and intensity of cases it has supported.
When the pandemic first began, Boyer said the response to cases was relatively calm, then skyrocketed until it returned to calm, only to soar once more and eventually stabilize.
The increase in domestic violence cases during the onset of COVID-19 has been called a “phantom pandemic” and “pandemic within a pandemic” by national publications like TIME which have highlighted the problem.
“We’ve had at least a 35% increase in the number of phone calls we’ve received year over year, from 2020 to 2021,” Boyer said.
There has also been an increase in the clientele of the Dove Center and the services provided, with the workload being handled by lawyers and clinicians becoming heavier and more intense per client than before, Boyer told the board. .
“This has been the beautiful impact of COVID,” she said.
For more information on the Dove Center and Erin’s Home and how to get involved, visit the Dove Center website.
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