Russell County community gathers for night of celebration to support crisis center

Russell County community gathers for night of celebration to support crisis center

PHENIX CITY, Ala. (WTVM) - It was a night of celebration in Russell County on Thursday. The community came together to raise awareness about domestic violence and money for a local shelter to help domestic violence victims.

The Russell County Crisis Center in Phenix City has been available to take in people trying to escape from domestic violence but closed the shelter last week due to funding and many other issues.

It was closed because of a lack of funding and because the building needs repairs.

The new incoming president, Suszanne Tew’Washburn, said this is temporary and they are placing current residents in other shelters.

“We are looking at hopefully, in less than a month, we will be up and running. In the meantime, people can still get services from us as far as our crisis line if they need some assistance with trying to find some housing,” said Tew’Washburn.

Crisis center officials said their services are needed now more than ever.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline said one in every four women are victims of domestic violence and one in seven men.

Outgoing president, Dr. Stephen Cooper, said more state and federal funding is needed to help keep the facility’s doors open.

“People need to understand when someone is going through rape or abuse or domestic violence, someone has to take that person to the courthouse and help them get restraining papers and help them get the legal things they need to get done to take care of themselves. We have to find a way to get these people out of that environment to protect them and house them,” said Cooper.

One of the purposes of Thursday’s event was to recognize local leaders, like Phenix City Police Chief Ray Smith and Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor, for all they’ve done to help with the crisis center.

“It’s kind of mind-boggling," said Taylor. "If we didn’t have that location to go to, we would never get anybody to leave. They would remain in that abusive situation for years and years.”

Officials at the crisis center said they are working on getting the necessary funding in place with the goal of trying to reopen the shelter next month.

In the meantime, they will try to help anyone who needs it by referring them to other facilities.

Anyone who may need help can call the crisis hotline number at 334-297-4401.

Copyright 2019 WTVM. All rights reserved.