New Directions is Born
In its formative years (beginning in 1992), a group of volunteers calling themselves the DREAM Team worked to assist victims of domestic violence in this community in partnership with Turning Point in Columbus. The group provided transportation to their facility, supported clients, coordinated services with other agencies, assisted in finding legal services, and worked to raise community awareness. It soon became apparent that Decatur County should have its own domestic violence shelter. After some initial fundraising toward that goal, New Directions of Decatur County, Inc. was incorporated as a 501-c-3 not for profit organization in 1998. The shelter has been operating since August of 2000 in a facility that was made available rent free for several years through the generosity of a local philanthropist/landlord. (In May of 2005, the building was sold and the facility is no longer rent free.) Through 2010, the shelter housed 92 women and 124 children and answered well over 500 crisis calls. Families stayed in shelter an average of 7 to 10 days, but could stay up to 45 days if necessary
In December of 2010, the Board of Directors chose to reorganize and expand the scope of services for victims of domestic violence and abuse. A new full-time Executive Director was hired with the task of focusing developing non-residential services to help expand the number of victims we could serve. In addition, the Board voted to begin to provide services to adult men who were victims of dv and services were finally available for victims of all types of abuse, not just those who had experienced physical abuse. Grant money was secured to remodel the facility to create a counseling room, private bathroom for staff/volunteers, and expanded office space. The two remaining bedrooms were redesigned to accommodate the same number of beds as before the remodel. Three part-time staff were hired over the next three years and additional volunteers were recruited and trained. All of these efforts combined to allow our agency to serve tremendously larger numbers of victims of abuse. Prior to 2011, the largest number of adult (primary) victims served in given year was 11 (in 2001). Following the reorganization, our agency served 66 primary victims and 95 secondary victims in 2011, 151 primary victims and 167 secondary victims in 2012, and 165 primary victims and 222 secondary victims in 2013. It is also notable that in 2013, 17 of the 165 adult victims receiving services were males! During each of the years following reorganization, providing emergency shelter accounted for only 1% of the total services provided and less than 10% of the victims served requested shelter. Our shelter stays are now limited to a maximum of 7 days for victims in current danger of physical violence. We now provide free counseling from a professionally trained counselor and assist with safety planning and dv education for virtually all victims we serve. Clients also routinely receive food, clothing, personal hygiene items, diapers, gas cards, rental assistance, utility assistance, and a wide variety of other items depending on the specific needs of the clients. In addition, we coordinate services with other local agencies and provide appropriate referrals. We support victims to find legal support, write requests for protective orders, fill out police reports, find housing, write resumes, search for jobs, and secure additional financial resources. We will also transport victims and accompany them to the police station, the courthouse, the hospital emergency room, and other places as needed.
New Directions receives major funding from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute through their VOCA grant funding programs. Local funding resources include Decatur County Commissioners, Decatur County Community Foundation, local churches and organizations, individual donors, and small grants from local philanthropic organizations such as the Decatur County REMC Community Trust. Recent grant funding has also been received through the Allstate Foundation. In addition, New Directions sponsors fundraising events and projects to secure additional funding for our organization.
New Directions of Decatur County is a non-profit organization that serves a small rural county with a population of approximately 26,000 in southeastern Indiana. We are located in the county seat, Greensburg (pop. 11,600). We primarily serve Decatur County, but will also serve victims in nearby counties if staff and resources are available. The agency is overseen by a nine member Board of Directors and a current staff of three full time employees.