Women and Girls Fund Announces 2023 Live Ballot Award
Women and Girls Fund awards $50,000 to support domestic violence assistance
A program that helps area law enforcement officers identify domestic violence victims at high risk of homicide or serious injury will be more widely available in the Fredericksburg region, thanks to a $50,000 grant from The Community Foundation’s Women and Girls Fund.
The grant was awarded at the Women and Girls Fund’s annual Live Ballot event, where the hundreds of women who have joined the fund to date are invited to hear directly from the groups applying for funding, and then vote to award the grant.
This year’s Live Ballot took place Tuesday [May 9] at the Mary Washington Monument—the first U.S. monument ever erected by women for a woman—in Fredericksburg.
Fund members voted to award this year’s grant to Empowerhouse, for its Lethality Assessment Protocol (LAP). The lethality assessment is a research-based tool that enables law enforcement officers to identify victims of domestic violence who are at the highest risk of being injured or killed by their intimate partners, and immediately connect them with local domestic violence services provided through Empowerhouse.
Empowerhouse piloted this program in partnership with the Stafford County Sheriff’s Department. Officers receive special training to ask a series of questions of victims at the scene of a domestic violence incident. Victims are asked if they have been spied on, if their partner has access to a gun, and if the partner has ever threatened to kill the victim or a child in the household, among other things.
Empowerhouse Executive Director Kathy Anderson said about half of the individuals served in the Stafford County pilot were identified as being in high danger of homicide from domestic violence. When that determination is made, victims are connected directly with Empowerhouse through a dedicated phone line that the nonprofit staffs around the clock.
“We have people standing by for that call,” Anderson said. “When we can speak to them right there when law enforcement is still on the scene, it’s safe for them to talk to us and make those connections to shelter and other support services. They realize they have a support system that they didn’t know they had. If they are just given a phone number very quickly, then within 24 hours somebody who controls them is back in control, telling them they’re alone and there’s nobody who cares about them. This is a warm handoff.”
Empowerhouse was one of two grant applicants who presented at the Live Ballot event. Fund members also heard from the Rappahannock Area Health District, which applied for grant funding to support the Every Woman’s Life (EWL) program, which provides free breast and cervical cancer screenings and follow-up services to low-income, uninsured Virginia women.
The health district is seeking funding to cover an outreach worker who goes to community gathering places to spread the word—in English and Spanish—about the importance of cancer screening and the availability of these services.
“Many of the women we serve haven’t been screened in many, many years because they don’t have that opportunity,” said Michelle Clayton, the program’s coordinator.
The Women and Girls Fund has a vision of growing to a fund made up of 1,000 women, each giving a one-time contribution of $1,000, to create a $1 million endowment to fund programs like these for years to come. Women can join at any time and make payments on a one-time, quarterly or yearly basis.
“By helping to support our women and girls, we are also helping to support the communities they are a part of,” said Community Foundation President Stephanie Hanchey. “It’s a vital part of what the Community Foundation does.”
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