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Shelter offers additional aid to victims of violence

In the business world, the more customers who walk through the door, the better.
But at Amy’s House, the county’s only shelter for victims of domestic abuse, an increase in the number of people served means one thing — an increase in violence.
As of Wednesday, 232 women called 911 to report domestic disturbances in the county, and 66 made reports in the city, according to Vicky Lingerfelt, executive director of Amy’s House.
Since Jan. 1, the shelter has housed 40 women and children.
“It’s doubled this year compared to last year at this time,” Lingerfelt said.
But luckily, the shelter has received two grants to help pay for its needs.
The Governor’s Crime Commission awarded Amy’s House with a $75,000 grant each year for the next two years.
In addition to covering operational expenses like training and utilities, the grant will pay for two new positions.
A sexual assault counselor position will be filled by LaVerne Bolick, a retired Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office detective who worked sex abuse cases.
“This is a wonderful addition to the shelter,” Lingerfelt said. “This completes the circle.”
Amy’s House has had a sexual assault program for the past four years, but it was limited. Now Bolick will be able to help victims of rape and molestation — not in an investigative role, but in one of assistance.
“She’s going out to mediate with the family to offer them resources and a place to turn to,” Lingerfelt said. “Instead of being on the investigative end, she’s on the healing end.”
There’s also a part-time Hispanic outreach position available to help serve the growing number of Hispanic women and children who spend time at the shelter.
Many times, the children of abuse victims will be able to speak English, but the woman cannot.
“This will open up a lot of doors for the victims,” Lingerfelt said.
Amy’s House also received a $17,000 Emergency Shelter Grant, which is almost twice what was awarded last year.
Another big project shelter officials are working on is the establishment of a thrift store to bring in more money for the shelter.
While donations from community members will still be free to victims of domestic violence, the thrift store will also be open to the public. Money made will go to the shelter. Lingerfelt is currently looking for a location for the store in Lincolnton.
But as always, Amy’s House relies on grants and fund raisers to bring in money. Lingerfelt is currently planning the “People for Change” fund raiser, which aims to increase awareness of abuse and effect change in Lincoln County.
“People for Change” donors will be recognized during the annual Domestic Violence Month banquet. Their donations will help fund Amy’s House as well as enable education programs to reach students and civic groups. Donations will also go toward providing services — from legal advice to parenting education — to violence victims.
For more information on Amy’s House or any of items listed above, call Lingerfelt at (704) 736-0112.
by Alice Smith

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