'Here to help': Women's Help Center mission unchanged by funding loss

·2 min read

Jun. 11—A decision to shift a significant grant to another local provider won't stop the Johnstown-based Women's Help Center from continuing its 40-year mission to support victims of domestic abuse, the nonprofit's new director said Thursday.

Roxann Tyger said that the center's doors remain open to residents of Cambria and Somerset counties through several other funding sources, including the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, and that their nonprofit will continue providing emergency sheltering, advocacy support during support cases and prevention services, as they have since 1985.

"We're not going anywhere. We're still here to walk victims through the legal system, to help them with protection from abuse filings, for case management and to provide shelter, when needed," Tyger said.

While the nonprofit wasn't thrilled to learn they won't be receiving funding through the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, there is room for two providers in a region that is burdened by a daunting trend of domestic violence, Tyger said.

"There's such a huge need for these services. Having two providers ... could be a good thing," she said.

Ferndale-based Victim Services Inc. was awarded the coalition's separate contract to handle similar services in the same region, effective July 1.

Victim Services has provided support to sexual abuse victims for decades.

Now, Executive Director Mike Oliver said his nonprofit is working to establish additional shelter space for physical abuse victims, as well as making other preparations needed to begin serving additional people in July.

He agreed the number of people facing abuse is staggering for even two entities. The challenge today is finding enough financial support to address it all, Oliver said.

Julie Bancroft, of the Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said 1,080 people, including more than 200 children, were served through the coalition's funding in Cambria and Somerset counties from July 2019 through June 2020.

Tyger said she isn't sure how the loss of that funding will change the number of people the Help Center serves for domestic violence related issues.

The center served 850 people last year, she said, and employs 15 people, including case managers, shelter staff and legal advocates.

Tyger said she hopes that won't change either.

She said the nonprofit is exploring other opportunities to serve the area as well, perhaps "unmet needs" that exist that aren't being provided by anyone in Cambria and Somerset counties.

"But people know us as the area's domestic violence provider, and we want to make sure they know that hasn't changed," she said.

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