Domestic violence shelter needs more space for victims

Last year about 25,000 domestic violence victims were served by programs across the state. The waiting list at the area’s only shelter dedicated to victims can reach up to 35 people. 

Phones at Merryman House Domestic Crisis Center’s outreach center are always ringing. 

Maressa White is there to answer those calls and get domestic violence victims the services they need.

"It makes me not want to give up," White said.

For years, she’s seen many families who need help. Sometimes, she says, Paducah’s Merryman House emergency shelter can’t meet the community’s need.

"We’ve had to put families in our playroom. We’ve had to put families on our couches," White said.

It’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and Merryman House Executive Director Mary Foley is determined to get the word out about the problem.

"I can’t tell you the number of times we’ve had three beds open, but we’ve got a mom and four kids. So, for her need, that’s not going to work," Foley said.

She says the waiting list can build up. The shelter works to accommodate these people by putting them in other programs around the state.

"Having to take their kids out of school and go to a different shelter, it is an obstacle they’re not able to overcome," Foley said.

The shelter is now working to secure the old McCracken County School Board buildings.

The current location has one building, but the new location has eight buildings. Foley says this will allow the Merryman House to add 12 more beds, making a total of 36 beds, and provide more services.

"Just to not have to turn people away," Foley said. "I think we are going to save so many lives."

Right now, getting the new location is a goal the shelter hopes to soon make a reality.

The shelter has to raise $1.5 million by late January to purchase the new site. It’s raised $45,000 at a fund raising event. It’s also received a $20,000 grant from the Mary Kay Foundation.

It’s working on a campaign to raise money, and will be announcing information on how people can help in the next month or so. For now the shelter is always accepting food and toiletries for day-to-day operations.

You can help by calling the Merryman House Domestic Crisis Center at 800-585-2686 or 270-443-6001. You can also head to its website.

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