BOLIVAR, Mo. – For a while now, the only domestic violence shelter in Polk County hasn’t had enough space to help some victims and their children. Assistant executive director of the Polk County House of Hope Danielle Ward recalls turning away a family not too long ago.
“A mother and five children,” Ward said. “But we didn’t have enough beds. We had a few that were available but not enough to help her and the children. Of course, we provide resources and alternatives and hope that they can find another place to go. If not, there’s always the possibility of us putting them in a hotel for a day or two. But, it stinks when you can’t give them a safe place or bed to sleep in.”
Fortunately, OzarksFirst learned this situation would be making a turn for the better soon. Ward’s shelter recently purchased two much larger buildings. It will move into what used to be a dorm and theater at Southwest Baptist University.
“It’s gonna enable us to help and reach so many more victims,” Ward said. “We do have a hotline that’s manned 24/7. It’s going to be a lot easier to provide assistance to clients in this environment. Right now, we’re in such a small space.”
The Polk County House of Hope will eventually transition from having 18 beds to as many as 60 to 90. When renovations are finished, there will be dorm rooms, a space for advocates to help victims, a cafeteria-style kitchen and a media room with some computers and a television. These upgrades, along with the buildings, will cost the non-profit about $1 million.
Ward says moving has been a big transition.
“It’s a tough transition because we, like everyone else, are struggling to get the number of employees up to meet that new need,” Ward said. “In addition to that, we have so many tasks going on at the same time. Our supplies for the new windows are not coming as quickly as we’d like and then in addition to that just finding the volunteers to do the work. It’s just a difficult mix of things. A balance that you have to try to figure out.”
She’s also a bit worried about possibly getting an overflow of referrals from other shelters in need.
“I feel like it won’t take long for us to end up utilizing all of the new space,” Ward said. “That is not a good thing either because we are talking about domestic violence. Any time there is a new resource, it adds to the number of referrals that you get. I think it will result in the bed space being used for sure.”
Regardless, Ward says she would like to see the new shelter open before this winter.
The Polk County House of Hope will hold its annual “Hope Ball” this October in Springfield at The Old Glass Place. 300 tickets will be sold, starting at $60 a ticket. To register, click here. To learn about other ways you can help, visit this website.