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Funding shift brings small increase in services to Perham's Someplace Safe

So far this year, Perham's Someplace Safe outreach center has served 327 people - victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or general crimes.

With an average of 30 new victims each month, the total number of individuals helped is expected to be close to 400 by the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30. This is almost 80 more people than last year, and 160 more people than the year before that.

This growth has been the trend since the organization was established in 1998.

"Each year, those needing our services are finding their way here," Kris Warhole, the current advocate in Perham, said in an interview. "We have made a significant difference on the east side of the county, and we are here to stay."

As people become more aware of the smaller outreach centers, like Perham's office, the traffic through the emergency shelter based out of Fergus Falls dwindles. This trend made the Someplace Safe organization reexamine its financial plan recently.

Effective Oct. 1, Someplace Safe funding from the Minnesota Office of Justice Programs-Crime Victims Services will end funding for the emergency shelter in Fergus Falls due to a history of low occupancy and the availability of other violence shelters in nearby Becker County.

Becki Jordan, the Director of Development of Someplace Safe based out of Fergus Falls, said 40 percent of Someplace Safe's budget was sunk into emergency shelters. By closing the shelter, all that money could be invested in outreach offices in order to offer more services to clients locally.

Jordan said, "It makes more sense to have local offices in each county so people can get assistance they need locally" instead of driving to a shelter many miles away.

Jordan said, "Our clients won't see that much of a change because even though the shelter is closing, we will still supply emergency housing" through the hotel/motel program, which puts victims in motels in order to remove them from emergency situations.

Currently, Someplace Safe operates nine outreach offices in eight counties, but the recent funding shift will allow the organization to open another outreach office in Wadena and expand the hours at the Perham office.

Located at each outreach office is an advocate who helps individuals complete restraining order paperwork, works alongside police and other agencies, and provides information about Someplace Safe programs, among other things.

The Perham advocate position will expand to a full time position because of the funding shift.

The shift will also help one of Perham's most well used programs, the Parenting Time Center Program.

Since 2006, this program has provided a safe alternative to public confrontations for families involved in a custody battle. The Parenting Time Center eliminates face-to-face contact between mother and father when exchanging kids, as the parents are not at the drop-off point at the same time.

Individuals are referred to Someplace Safe by various agencies throughout the county.

Someplace Safe relies on community support to help raise awareness, and although most of its funding comes from the state, it also relies on community fundraisers to help fill the gaps.

The Perham Someplace Safe has two upcoming fundraisers: Perham's Lady Charity sixth annual golf event, and a 'Walking in Women's Heels' event.

The golf fundraiser will be held on Saturday, Sept. 8 at the Perham golf course at noon. The $65 cost includes lunch and golfing with a cart; a portion goes toward prize money.

'Walking in Women's Heels' will take place in downtown Perham on Friday, Sept. 28 at noon. Men are invited to step up to raise awareness against domestic violence and sexual assault by taking a walk in four-inch high heels. Cost is $50 and includes a T-shirt and a sparkly pair of heels in men's sizes (to borrow, not to keep).

To reach Someplace Safe's 24-hour crisis hotline, call 800-974-3359. The local office can be reached at 346-7276.