Hill Country Crisis Council has received a prestigious national award honoring the nonprofit as one of the top family violence shelters in the country.
The organization received word April 13 that it had been nominated for — and would receive — a Purple Ribbon Award medallion in the category Program/Shelter of the Year from DomesticShelters.org, the first and largest online directory for domestic violence shelters and programs nationwide.
The award was formally bestowed in a virtual award ceremony on May 18, where the Kerrville center will be recognized alongside other medallion winners across the country, said Executive Director Brent Ives.
Ives told the Community Journal that the Hill Country Crisis Council offers three core services to local families: a family violence program and shelter, a rape and sexual assault crisis center and services, and a children’s advocacy center for children who have disclosed or witnessed physical or sexual abuse.
“I think we’re blessed in this community to have all of those services under the same umbrella, for purposes of continuity and relationships,” Ives said.
Hill Country Crisis Council’s domestic violence shelter operates out of a two-story 1930s-era home that has been renovated over the years, according to Ives. It has seven rooms for families of different sizes and can comfortably accommodate up to 18 individuals at a time.
“If there’s one woman and she has three children, then we’re going to put her in a room with two beds and a bunk bed,” Ives said. “For a family with four children, we can bring in extra cots to make do so that the family can stay together.”
He explained that Hill Country Crisis Council makes every effort to avoid splitting up families and avoids other non-related adults staying with a family to protect everyone’s privacy and confidentiality.
“We are sort of a unique shelter in our approach — we don’t have a term limit on someone coming in and how long they can stay, a 30-day or 60-day limit,” Ives said. “In our experience working with survivors of family violence and sexual assault, 30 days is not enough to get to a place where you can take care of yourself, let alone take care of your children.”
He noted that survivors’ credit ratings have often been destroyed by abusers, or they don’t have family or friends nearby to help, or they have no work history.
“It takes time to reconnect with relationships, to reconnect into employment, to reconnect into financial stability,” explained Ives. “Our average length of stay is about 60 days, but we have individuals who have been here for six months or nine months or even (occasionally) more than a year.”
In addition to the domestic violence shelter, Hill Country Crisis Council also offers services for rape and sexual assault survivors including assigned staff advocates that can help with basic needs, legal paperwork and financial literacy. Advocates can also be present when survivors report assault to police or attend legal hearings or when they receive medical examinations at the hospital. A crisis response team is on call 24/7 for both adult and child victims of physical and sexual violence.
“Oftentimes there are obstacles during the process of criminal justice, and our advocates want to be present in accompanying survivors through the process,” Ives said.
Survivors are also eligible to receive referrals to mental health professionals who specialize in trauma-focused care.
Hill Country Crisis Council has 27 full-time staff members across its programs, according to Ives, and is always in need of volunteers to be trained in victim advocacy and staff the crisis hotline or crisis response team.
For more information on the center and its activities, to donate or get involved, visit www.hillcountrycrisiscouncil.com or call (830) 257-7088.
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