Across the country Tuesday, people are donating to charities for Giving Tuesday. It’s a campaign designed to get you into the spirit of giving during the holiday season.
But, for the Women’s Center in Carbondale, Illinois, Giving Tuesday isn’t your average fundraiser. Because 18 months of state budget issues have caused inconsistent funding for their programs, center leaders say your donations would make a difference to keep services going.
Inside the Women’s Center, there’s just a handful of people available to serve southern Illinois domestic violence and sexual assault victims. Executive Director Cathy McClanahan says they’ve cut what they can, but money is still running out.
"We are now using whatever we raise in funds and whatever we've been able to save through fundraising efforts and donations in the past. And that's only going to last so long," McClanahan said. She said this year, the center has received $55,000 of the $192,000 promised for its sexual assault and domestic violence services. That was supposed to last until January, but McClanahan said that money is long gone after bills overdue from last year’s state budget problems.
The center is trying to bring in $5,000 on Giving Tuesday.
Jennifer Fortune and her coworkers at J. Fortune Photography helped raise $1,600 through the Red Heal photography project. Fortune said they’re happy to help the center, because domestic violence is a taboo problem she knows all too well.
"I am also a survivor, so I have a great passion for it. And I've also had women come through and share their stories of survival. So, it's been really neat to work on this project with all of these people," Fortune said. "People don't like to talk about domestic violence. It happens so commonly, and it's just not spoken of. So it means a lot to have people come out and support this cause.”
McClanahan said they need that continued support now more than ever, because without it they may need to cut counseling, advocacy and sexual assault services by the end of June. She said they’re hopeful the state can pass a budget before then, because center staff members can’t imagine what services would look like by then. The Women’s Center is often the only provider local victims of domestic violence and sexual assault can turn to.
"Where are victims going to go when they need our services?" McClanahan asked.
"There are women out there who need our help. Men too," Fortune said.
Dollar by dollar, McClanahan says they’ll fight to keep services going for those women and men.
To donate to the Women’s Center, click here.
To participate in Giving Tuesday, you can make a donation through your preferred nonprofit or find participating providers in your area. Click here for more information.
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