Domestic violence shelter cutting hours after losing grant

By David Berman
Sep 20, 2012

CHILLICOTHE — The Ross County Coalition Against Domestic Violence is cutting its shelter hours in half after losing a $50,000 grant that accounted for roughly half of the facility’s total operating budget.

Starting on Monday, the shelter — which has been open around the clock — will be open from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.

“Something’s got to give,” said coalition Director Mandy Sullivan-Dyke. “We can’t operate at a $50,000 loss.”

Despite the loss in funds, Sullivan-Dyke said she and her staff will try to have someone at the shelter during the day whenever possible.

“When the weather gets bad or someone is in danger, one of us will try to be there during the day,” she said.

The coalition lost out on funding from the Family Violence Prevention & Services Act grant program, which is overseen by the State Office of Criminal Justice Services. The program funds projects to prevent incidents of family violence and provides immediate shelter and related assistance for family violence victims and their dependents.

The statewide grant program has become increasingly competitive in recent years as its overall funding levels have diminished, said Kristen Castle, spokeswoman for the Office of Criminal Justice Services.

“During the review process, the (Ross County coalition) was not recommended for funding,” Castle said.

Castle said it’s likely the Ross County coalition’s application simply wasn’t as strong as other applications. She said the coalition does have the option of appealing the decision.

Sullivan-Dyke, who has worked for the coalition for six years but only took over as its director Aug. 1, said she was not involved in writing the grant application so she’s not sure exactly why it was unsuccessful. She said she plans to appeal the decision and, come November, apply for next year’s round of funding.

“We’ve written other grants. We’re just waiting to hear back. … It could be a rough road,” she said.

The coalition currently has five full-time employees and one part-time employee — a far cry from its peak of 19 employees.

Sullivan-Dyke said she’s hopeful that between staff members, volunteers and college students completing their practicum requirements, there will be enough people to unofficially keep the shelter open during the day, Monday through Thursday. The coalition recently reduced its office hours and is now closed on Fridays.

The coalition serves an average of 1,000 people each year, many of them women and children who are looking for a safe haven not only at night, but during the day, too, she said.

“With domestic violence, they don’t need shelter because they’re homeless, it’s because they need to get away from someone,” she said. “I’m an advocate first and foremost and I’m scared to death (about the shelter not being open around the clock).”

Sullivan-Dyke said several community members have stepped up with private donations. Anyone interested in contributing to the coalition can call (740) 775-5396 or send a check to P.O. Box 1727, Chillicothe, OH 45601.