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Domestic violence centers continue to operate |

Domestic violence centers continue to operate

An ailing national economy doesn’t mean there aren’t places in the Alle-Kiski Valley where domestic violence victims can get help, two Valley shelter directors say.

Michele Bond, who directs the Alle-Kiski Area HOPE Center, and JoEllen Bowman, who directs Helping All Victims in Need (HAVIN) in Kittanning, said domestic violence and other services continue to be available despite budget cuts to their agencies for the past seven years.

The organizations are members of a statewide coalition. “There are 62 domestic violence programs I can send people to as needed,” Bowman said.

If there isn’t a bed available locally, HOPE Center or HAVIN employees call other centers across the state to see what’s available and to arrange transportation, they said.

Earlier this year, the National Domestic Violence Hotline warned that an economic slowdown could reduce hotline services because foundation gifts likely would dry up.

The hotline gets federal and state money but 35 percent of its budget comes from foundations. So there was a worry that 44,000 phone calls won’t be answered because of staff cuts.

“We’re starting to get some gifts now, but it’s still very slow,” hotline spokeswoman Retha Fielding said.

She said the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is cutting back on funding for transitional housing that often is used by people after they leave shelters.

Bond and Bowman say that some of the calls to the hotline are referred to the local centers.

They worry that some local domestic violence victims might mistakenly believe local shelters don’t have enough room for them and talk themselves out of calling.

“Victims are very fragile,” Bond said, “and if they think the answer will be ‘no’ if they call, they won’t even pick up the phone.”

Additional Information:

Where to get help

• Alle-Kiski HOPE Center: 724-224-1266, 800-299-HOPE or .

• HAVIN Inc. at Kittanning: 724-548-8888, 800-841-8881 or .

• Victim Outreach Intervention Center at Butler: 800-400-8551.

• Blackburn Center, Greensburg, 724-837-9540.

To contact the statewide Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, click on: .

The National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached at 800-799-SAFE or .

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