A recent fire at the Laurens County Safe Home
required staff of the shelter to relocate their clients to safe locations, and now staff are hoping a recently-announced 2-to-1 matching grant by Silent Tears, SC provides the opportunity to alleviate some of the financial burden which the agency had felt even before the fire.
“The important thing is that no one was harmed, and the people of Laurens County are already coming forward to help,” said Laurens County Safe Home Director Dawn Ardelt, referring to IEJ Properties of Laurens which offered a six-month lease for office space at no cost.
The Laurens County Safe Home provides a safe shelter for women and their children from Laurens, Abbeville and Saluda counties, and staff members also provide legal advocacy and many other services for clients who never use the shelter.
“Due to the CDC and DHEC guidelines for COVID-19, we were already stretched because we could only operate at 50 percent capacity. We’ve been having to house any additional women and families in hotels and covering their food costs,” Ardelt said, noting that the budget had not included any of those additional costs. “Now with the fire the shelter is closed. We can’t get to our regular supplies and emergency clothing for clients. The insurance will bring it back to where it was but we will have to do much more to meet current codes, so we will need every bit of the matching grant funding for that.”
The Silent Tears, South Carolina’s Emergency Match 2020 Fundraising Challenge will provide a 2-to-1 match for donations to the Laurens County Safe Home when they are made through the Silent Tears SC portal. It also offers funds to four other agencies providing assistance to victims of domestic violence in other rural counties. The challenge was designed “to benefit South Carolina’s domestic violence centers that are are facing the most economic challenges,” said Kelly Nichols, according to the organization’s press conference.
Silent Tears Director Kelly Nichols, spoke at Thursday’s launch of the “Silent Tears 2020 Emergency Match” gift and fundraising campaign, explaining it “will directly benefit South Carolina’s domestic violence centers that are facing the most economic challenges.”
“These centers need all of our help,” Nichols said. “They are facing smaller budgets and insurmountable, unexpected costs in trying to accommodate families while following recommended social distancing guidelines. If you want to make a difference, this is your chance.”
The emergency funding challenge has the potential to donate as much as $525,000. The Laurens County Safe Home could benefit by receiving as much as $75,000 of that, Ardelt said. In addition to the three counties served by the Safe Home, agencies selected in Orangeburg, Aiken, Sumter and Florence assist domestic violence victims and their families in 17 different rural counties.
When staff had learned about the Safe Home’s selection early last week, a wheelchair accessible ramp had been added to the list of most urgent needs.
“I guess we will get the wheelchair access now,” Ardelt said, noting the irony as she described some of the reconstruction now required by the fire. “We are so grateful to the Silent Tears organization for selecting us and the timing is very fortunate. Our goal is to continue offering services 100 percent and to make everything as safe as possible for everyone involved.”
Anyone can donate to the Laurens County Safe Home’s portion of the Emergency Match 2020 by going to SilentTearsSC.org/Match2020.