ROCKLAND – New Hope For Women supporters were off and running – or walking – to raise money Saturday for the nonprofit domestic abuse organization and to increase public awareness of the problem.
The annual Family Walk & Race to End Domestic Abuse is New Hope’s largest fund-raiser, next to its annual appeal, fund developer Karen Grove said Friday. New Hope usually raises $10,000 in the one-day event.
Races also were held Saturday in Bangor, Bar Harbor, Belfast, Boothbay, Calais, Guilford, Skowhegan and Vinalhaven as part of the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
New Hope For Women, based in Rockland, provides services to women and men in Knox, Lincoln and Waldo counties who are victims of domestic abuse. There are outreach offices in Damariscotta and Belfast.
Grove commented Friday that this was an unusual year, pointing to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. Normally, 50 people sign up for the race beforehand, but only one person had done so.
On the day of the race, however, the 16 runners and walkers helped raise $7,100 in Rockland and from Rockland businesses, Grove said Saturday. She did not yet have the amounts raised in Belfast and Vinalhaven.
At the Rockland event, the Rev. Glen Rainsley, pastor of the Congregational church in Camden, won first prize for raising the most funds. His $2,500 donation earned him a night at the Samoset Resort for two and dinner at Marcel’s restaurant.
New Hope’s annual operating costs of $700,000 are partially funded by the state, which pays between 65 percent and 70 percent, Grove said. The remainder is raised by the organization through the annual appeal, the race and other fund-raisers.
The nonprofit organization has a staff of 17 who manage several programs, and 45 volunteers who work the domestic abuse hot line 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
The need for services seems to be growing as the numbers of clients increase each year.
In fiscal year 2001, New Hope had 894 clients, 25 of whom were men; in 2000, there were 825 served and in 1999, 755.
“That’s a huge jump,” Grove said, “[and] the level of violence is greater than it has been in the past. The damage is a lot worse.”
One of New Hope’s court advocates, who did not want to be identified, said that there are an increasing number of children being hurt in domestic cases.
Several of the services offered by New Hope are counseling for battered women, men and children, safe homes and court advocacy.
Besides about 13 safe homes, where victims can seek temporary refuge, the organization has four apartments that are used for transitional housing. The apartments are available to women and their children for up to 24 months. All apartments are occupied, she said.
Safe homes are located at area residences where people have offered a room to someone in need for up to three days. Residents involved in the program are required to complete 36 hours of training.
“We may call you on a cold, February night,” Grove said, referring to safe home volunteers.
New Hope also offers a program for perpetrators, called Time For Change. It involves several sessions where offenders learn how to change their behavior.
In an attempt to educate the public about domestic abuse, New Hope has a school-based program to teach youngsters about nonviolent, healthy relationships and tolerance. The New Hope staff works with guidance counselors and school administrators, Grove said.
In addition, there is a community education program, which involves speaking to service clubs and businesses about domestic violence.