A peninsula shelter for victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault could see financial impacts from the budget proposed by Gov. Mike Dunleavy.
During a meeting of the board of directors for the LeeShore Center, Executive Director Cheri Smith broke down potential ways the governor’s proposed state budget could directly impact the center.
The LeeShore Center is a Transitional Living Center in Kenai that provides services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, as well as emergency shelter for those who experience homelessness due to domestic violence.
Smith said that The Child Care Assistance Program could receive a 29 percent reduction in funding, but that she is waiting for the state budget to be finalized to determine what kind of impact this will have.
Smith’s biggest concern is with the Housing Assistance Program (HAP) grant, which she said provides for a large portion of the operational funds for the LeeShore Center’s Emergency Shelter. According to Smith, LeeShore currently receives about $50,000 a year in HAP Grant funding and has relied on this grant for more than 20 years. The HAP Grant is an operational grant that covers the utility costs for the shelter as well as a portion of the salary for the shelter’s domestic violence advocate.
The state budget as proposed by the governor includes reducing the total amount of statewide HAP grant funding from $7.9 million to $950,000. If this happens, Smith said she might have to get creative in searching for grants that can substitute for the HAP funding. While Smith believes that cuts to some of their funding are likely to occur, she is hesitant to start making big adjustments until the budget makes it further along in the legislative process.
Smith said that the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault — which is a primary resource for the center — will have its funding unaffected by the budget as proposed by the governor.
Spring Fling Fundraiser
During their meeting Wednesday evening, the LeeShore board of directors also discussed plans for a potential fundraiser and the peninsula Green Dot program.
The board intends to organize a fundraiser for the LeeShore Center later this year in the form of a “Spring Fling” event. The board decided on a tentative date of June 8 and are in talks with the Elks Lodge in Kenai to host the fundraiser. Marti Slater, vice president of the board, said she wanted the fundraiser to include a silent auction and a split-the-pot style raffle. “I think we should make it a very special night with music, dancing, and a good meal,” Slater said during the meeting.
The board will meet later in March to iron out the details on catering, accommodations, and ticket sales.
Green Dot Bystander Intervention
Ashley Blatchford, education and training assistant for the LeeShore Center, gave updates on the current status of the peninsula’s Green Dot Program. Green Dot is a bystander-intervention program that empowers members of the community to de-escalate potentially dangerous situations that occur in public.
The program was started by students at the University of Kentucky back in 2006, and since then has been adopted by campuses all over the country. Blatchford said that when a potentially violent or dangerous conflict occurs in public, bystanders only intervene about 15 percent of the time. The goal of the Green Dot program is twofold: to teach people how to effectively intervene in dangerous situations and to foster a culture that does not tolerate violence and abuse, thereby preventing future violence.
The peninsula’s Green Dot program just signed up a new round of team members to begin the intervention training.