PITTSBURG — It may not be the most ideal situation, but for some families the supervised visits at Safehouse Crisis Center is all they have.
Each end of the long room is filled with board games, toys and a sitting area. When families come to this part of the building it is either for supervised visits or to exchange a child to another parent. Executive Director Rebecca Brubaker said the program services 200 parents and children.
“It protects the family and allows the child to see the noncustodial parent,” Brubaker said.
All of the center’s programs rely on grants and donations, including an annual contribution by United Way of Southwest Missouri and Southeast Kansas for approximately $24,000.
Earlier this month, United Way kicked off their annual campaign to support 47 regional programs through 35 agencies. The campaign runs through the end of the year, with the goal of raising $200,000 — last year’s campaign effort raised $186,000.
Of the center’s $24,000, $14,000 goes toward the child exchange and visitation center. The money helps the center contract security guards — usually someone with a law enforcement background — and monitors.
Families are either court ordered, self appointed or referred by another agency to use the program.
The other $10,000 from United Way goes to shelter expenses for a program that serves families trying to flee from domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.
Brubaker said since Pittsburg’s homeless shelter closed a few years ago, the need for the shelter has grown. To keep up with the demand, the center is moving to another location roughly twice the size.
Once it's done, the center will expand from 23 to 50 beds for their 90-day program and add four apartments (each with five beds) in a more long-term program. The new facility will be operational at the beginning of 2017.
The center is having an invite-only fundraising effort in October for the shelter. But, there is an opportunity for the public to donate through a gift registry at Walmart or gift cards to Pittsburg Interiors, JC Penneys and Sears. Other household items are also in need. For more information, contact Safehouse at 620-231-8692.
Safehouse serves seven counties: Crawford, Bourbon, Linn, Cherokee, Montgomery, Wilson and Labette.
Safehouse is only one of roughly 15 local agencies benefitting from this year’s United Way campaign. Money can be pledged locally by calling United Way’s Pittsburg office at 620-231-8140 or text BAND2016 to 41444.
Over $990,000 has been raised in Southeast Kansas the last five years.
— Michael Stavola is a staff writer at The Morning Sun. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @MichaelStavola1.