A local organization devoted to assisting crime victims in Williams County is part of a national challenge to raise money to prevent more violence.
Sarah’s Friends, 209 S. Main St., Bryan, is one of many organizations to hook up with NO MORE, a national fundraising campaign to stop domestic violence, stalkers and sexual assaults. The campaign runs through April 11 and Sarah’s Friends is hoping to reach $3,000 in donations.
Sarah’s Friends was formed 25 years ago to be a place where a child abuse victim could be interviewed by an attorney or law enforcement person one time Executive Director Katie Cramer said. She has been in charge since July 2015, after the former director left and she was promoted from business manager.
Over the last few years, the mission has changed. Jobs and Family Services and Child Protection Services took over the child victim area, while Victim Assistance broke off as well. Sarah Friends changed into is current format helping victims of domestic violence, sexual assaults and stalking.
“Our service is not just for women,” Cramer said. “We help men as well. Our main emphasis is empowering victims to heal.”
The agency has served more than 400 people in the last two years. In 2016, Sarah’s Friends served 220 people (126 children/ 94 adults)
Types of abuse served:
• 60 percent Domestic Violence
• 9 percent Harassment/Stalking
• 6 percent Adult Physical Assault
• 6 percent Adults Sexually Abused as Children
• 5 percent Child Sexual Abuse/Assault
• 5 percent Robbery
• Remainder split: Adult Sexual Assault / Child Physical Abuse and neglect / Elder Abuse and neglect / and Bullying
• Females vs Males (143 Females / 60 Males / 17 Unreported)
• 25 families relocated in 2016 due to our Rapid Re-Housing Program
• Increased our Transitional Housing Program to three apartments in 2016 (compared to one apartment prior)
• Community Support provides more than 40 percent of needed annual income *prior grants have either ceased or decreased. Currently looking at new avenues.
With many federal grants threatened by President Trump’s budget proposals, Cramer said her agency must find new funding sources. This means not going to local sources that have given a lot of money already, she said. Instead, the national campaign will forward all money donated from local sources. If the agency can reach certain milestones in a given week, it is entered into a drawing for a $1,000 bonus, she said.
Some people don’t like the idea of donating online so they have sent in checks or dropped them off. That is good on one hand, but does nothing to help the agency qualify for a chance to win a bonus, Cramer said. “We are not winning the challenges, but we are getting the cash,” Cramer said. The agency needs more cash as it has been running a deficit of about $10,000 annually.
“The grants are drying up or have been reduced,” Cramer said. “We can’t keep asking from the same pot.”
Times are so tight, Cramer is the lone staff member. She has several volunteers, but she’s the point person. “We are hoping to receive funds to hire another person,” Cramer said. “They would be the program manager and outreach coordinator. We really want to expand outside Bryan.”
The new person would go out to the surrounding communities to promote the agency and make connections with victims, Cramer said.
As of March 23, Sarah’s Friends has raised $600 online. To donate and help Sarah’s Friends win challenges, got to https://www.crowdrise.com/sarahs-friends-nomorechallenge. To connect with the group, visit https://www.facebook.com/SarahsFriendsofWilliamsCounty
James Pruitt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org