Advocate Safehouse Project's mission is to promote healthy relationships free from violence through education, advocacy, empowerment and safehousing.
ASP worked quickly to begin working remotely on Monday, March 16, 2020. This took into account determining how ASP staff and survivors could safely access each other remotely with the purchase of additional equipment and software. ASP staff began to meet on a daily basis via video conferencing to make sure all survivors were being served. Several email blasts, Facebook posts in both English and Spanish were sent out as well as it was posted on ASP's website in both English and Spanish to notify the community how to reach ASP during this national crisis.
Initially during the original "Stay-At-Home" orders, ASP did not experience an increase in crisis calls or requests to stay in the Safehouse Program. Most likely, it was due to it not being safe to contact ASP because the survivors were consistently in the presence of their abuser. Local police departments also experienced less than normal call volume during this time.
However, beginning in mid-April, ASP began to experience an increase in the number of domestic violence survivors seeking emergency shelter and in severity of the cases. Because ASP's Safehouse Program is small, it can only provide emergency shelter for two families at a time due to social distancing. Then for other families seeking safe emergency sheltering ASP has been providing their emergency shelter in alternative locations.
Currently, ASP staff are mostly working remotely with survivors via the phone and video conferencing. If it is determined the services are needed in person, staff are required to wear masks, practice social distancing and meet in a public venue. ASP has made packets available for staff to give to survivors that include: masks, gloves, and an alcohol swab. ASP has stocked up on PPE supplies to reduce the exposure and risk of COVID-19 to staff and the survivors they work with in person. If a survivor is not comfortable wearing a mask, a face shield is provided.
2020 marks Advocate Safehouse Project 33rd year of providing assistance for survivors of domestic and/or sexual violence. We have so much to be thankful for as we look back over the past 33 years ….
• Trained over 508 volunteer advocates who cover ASP's Help Line;
• Facilitated women's support groups since 1987;
• Purchased a Safehouse;
• Provided over 40,208 nights of safe shelter for over 1,102 survivors and their 1,124 children;
• Outreached to the Latina community since 1996;
• Provided 2,253 educational presentations; &
• Started 2 new programs in 2019, Housing First Program & Youth Program.
We look forward to what the next 30+ years has in store for us at Advocate Safehouse Project as we continue our mission to promote healthy relationships free from violence through education, advocacy, empowerment and safehousing; supporting survivors of domestic and/or sexual violence.
It all started for ASP in 1986 when a group of concerned citizens in Garfield County joined together to respond to both a growing awareness of domestic violence and the need for comprehensive services for domestic violence survivors and their children. In the spring of 1987, ASP was incorporated, volunteer advocates were recruited, a 24-Hour Help Line and volunteer safehomes were established, and two weekly women's support groups with child care were made available in the county. In 1991, the agency expanded services to include survivors of sexual assault.
In 1993, ASP acquired and rehabilitated a facility to be used for a Safehouse Program. In 1999 & 2000, ASP completed a capital expansion project which doubled the space for the organization. In 2008, after 14 years of use (598 families with 618 children for 17,821 nights of shelter) the Safehouse was in dire need of a "Facelift". This work was necessary in order to correct major structural problems in the building, providing easier maintenance of the facility and to "freshen up" the interior.
Advocate Safehouse Project provides the following comprehensive and confidential services:
• 24-hour Help Line - crisis intervention, survivor education, emotional support, advocacy, and information/referrals offered in both English and Spanish staffed by an incredible group of Help Line Volunteer Advocates.
• Safehouse Program - emergency shelter for survivors in danger with crisis intervention, survivor education, safety planning, emotional support, advocacy, case management, and information/referrals.
• Community Outreach Program - crisis intervention, survivor education, safety planning, emotional support, advocacy, case management, and information/referrals for non-residential survivors.
• Housing First Program - connect individual and/or family survivors experiencing homelessness via domestic and/or sexual violence to permanent housing without preconditions and barriers to housing.
• Youth Program -supportive and advocacy services in the schools, community and the Safehouse Program targeting youth/children survivors of family and/or dating violence, and/or sexual violence.
• Latinx Outreach Program - all of the above services to Latinx survivors.
• Community Education Program - opportunities to inform and educate members of the community on the development of healthy relationships to prevent domestic and sexual violence.
• Help Line Volunteer Advocate Program - community members are recruited and trained (30+ hours of training) to become Help Line Volunteer Advocates for ASP's 24-hour Help Line.
Recently during 2019 and 2020:
• During 2019, ASP handled over 2,750 calls, worked with 441 survivors and provided an additional 24 adult survivors with 19 children (43 survivors) with 2,495 nights of shelter.
• Already in the first half of 2020, ASP has handled over 1,500 calls & video calls, worked with 267 survivors and provided an additional 12 adult survivors with 10 children (22 survivors) with 405 nights of emergency shelter.
Advocate Safehouse Project (ASP) first met with Linda, a young woman, and her infant child in October 2018 when she entered ASP's Safehouse Program. Over time, she transformed from a broken and desperate woman to being a confident and independent woman. Linda was in a relationship with an extremely violent and calculated criminal. This left her in a constant state of survival mode using just enough drugs to cope.
Through ASP's continual advocacy, support and belief in Linda, she became clean and sober. After obtaining her sobriety, ASP was able to transition Linda out of the Safehouse Program into ASP's Housing First Program. Now, Linda has her own "safe" and drug-free apartment for herself and her now 2-year-old son. She now has full custody of her son, but still is afraid her ex-boyfriend will find her. ASP was able to help her enroll in the Address Confidentiality Program to insure some semblance of safety.
Linda is just one example of the domestic violence survivors ASP works with on a daily basis. Prior to ASP's involvement with Linda most human service programs (non-profit and county) had labeled her as a "lost-cause". Fortunately, ASP's staff took the time to look beyond her facade and to truly help her and her son.