WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — The Wichita City Council voted 7-0 to approve $420,400 in CARES Act funding for the Wichita Family Crisis Center as well as the HumanKind Ministries on Tuesday.
“I want to thank the city council for identifying this desperate need in our community and recognizing that we as a whole will grow from this,” Amanda Myers, the executive director of the center said.
According to Myers, they cover three counties between their shelter and they are the only other shelter in the area. She says there are approximately 60 safe beds total.
With COVID-19 safety measures, their capacity has decreased by two-thirds. Meanwhile, they saw a dramatic increase in family crises due to health scares and financial insecurities.
“The numbers are out of control. We really do have to focus on awareness and prevention,” Myers said.
According to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, in the year 2020, there were 23,143 domestic violence incidents reported in Kansas. This is a 3.1% increase from 2019, with 22,453 incidents reported.
Congress passed a $900 billion Coronavirus Relief Act at the end of 2020. During the distribution of relief funds, the Strengthening People and Revitalizing Kansas (SPARK) committee administered more than $1.034 billion to support State, Local and Tribal governments.
The money they receive from this year’s Coronavirus Relief Fund will go toward the purchase and renovation of a new facility. They hope to triple the capacity of the shelter, as well as add administrative offices, classes, groups, conference rooms, everything needed to help women and children rebuild their lives.
“It’s not just about providing shelter. It’s really about helping someone rebuild their lives, addressing the trauma, helping them find a job helping them find permanent safe, stable housing, and all of that needs space and a place to take place,” Myers said.
Family and domestic violence is a common problem in the United States. It affects an estimated 10 million people every year; as many as one in four women and one in nine men.
“I think people forget this is a communitywide issue. This is about violence in our community and safety in our community, and it’s truly about the next generation as well because these kids are witnessing and experiencing abuse.” Myers continues, “Unfortunately, this is happening in all of our lives, and at every level, so we really need to be aware of it.”
If anyone out there needs advice, is experiencing abuse, is scared, and needs help, you can contact the Wichita Family Crisis Center, even if it is for someone else. There is even an online chat option if anyone is afraid to talk out loud on the phone.
They are always taking donations, especially around the holidays.
“We end up providing Christmases for usually around 300 families who are both in our shelter and outside,” Myers said. “So if somebody is out there and wants to help a family in need, we are absolutely, you know, taking donations especially for kids toys and things at this time of year.”