Domestic violence shelter in danger of closing


Reporter - Lauren Adams
Photojournalist - Jason Thomason

METROPOLIS, Ill. — Watching her son go down a slide, April Horne smiles.

"He is the best thing that has ever happened to me. He really is."

He is the reason Horne is at Guardian Family Services, a shelter for victims of domestic abuse.

"I don't know where we'd be right now. I don't even know if I'd be alive right now, if it wasn't for this place."

But that place could be in danger of closing after a series of crippling blows. An annual fund-raiser at Harrah's got canceled because of Flood 2011 and the organization lost $3,000. The loss of an attorney general's grant was another $3,000.

Then, the Department of Community and Economic Opportunity discontinued all shelter grants, which meant $26,000 was gone. Guardian found out Tuesday the city of Metropolis, in a budget crisis of its own, cut their annual gift of $8,500.

Director Rita Gower said they're in dire straits.

"I don't know what we'll do," she said.

Because there are so many women like Horne, Gower wondered how they will continue to care for them all.

"Its very, very serious. I don't know if we will be able to keep the doors open until the end of the year."

Gower said making up $40,000 is an all but impossible task.

"We have cut everything possible. I don't know what else we can cut. I really don't."

But Horne, who said she is getting a second chance, is hopeful the organization can stay open and help others.

"This place and my son saved me," she said.

Horne is one of about 16 women in the shelter. Its potential closure would affect more than just residents. Guardian Family Services also provides protection orders and supportive services like counseling and support groups.

The two closest shelters are in Paducah and Carbondale. But those shelters have lost the same grant money and are just as crowded.

Donations of any kind are welcome, especially diapers, canned goods and cash. You can send monetary donations to Guardian Family Services, P.O. Box 742, Metropolis, Illinois, 62960.

To drop off items, call (618) 524-HELP (4357).