02/18/07 — SUN - Wayne Uplift takes over Lighthouse

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SUN - Wayne Uplift takes over Lighthouse

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on February 18, 2007 2:08 AM


News-Argus Staff Writer

Almost three months ago, The Lighthouse of Wayne County closed its doors.

Now the Wayne Uplift Resource Association has stepped up to at least partially fill the void that was left behind.

Uplift executive director Linda Holden-Cox said earlier this month the organization's board of directors voted to take over the domestic violence programs formerly offered by The Lighthouse.

"It was all official Feb. 1. The board voted for Wayne Uplift Resource Association to collaborate with the County of Wayne, the (county) Department of Social Services and local funding agencies such as the United Way to continue to provide domestic violence services here in Wayne County," Mrs. Holden-Cox said.

Those continued programs include the Spanish-language hotline, the victim advocacy services and the anger management and the parenting and the abuser treatment classes.

"Those never really stopped," she said. "They were continued on a very limited volunteer basis by a former (Lighthouse) staffer."

Wayne Uplift also has turned the regular hotline -- the old Lighthouse phone number -- back on.

"It's the same number," she said. "It'll just be ringing at a different location."

For now, however, her organization's role will not include the safehouse.

"We felt the advocacy services were needed right away, and we were pretty much already set up to take those services under our umbrella," she explained. "We are still going to be entertaining the idea of going into Phase 2 of this, which would be the safe shelter. At this point, though, we are not providing the safe shelter."

And while that is an imperfect solution, County Manager Lee Smith said it's the best they can do under the circumstances.

"This really just fell in our laps," he said. "The Lighthouse, for all intents and purposes, is defaulted. The first thing we had to do was get the programs running. Those are really crisis intervention.

"The next piece is the safehouse, which is a much more difficult piece because you're dealing with property. It's going to take a couple of months to work that out."

The location of the safehouse is not made public and it is unclear who owns the property, but according to Lighthouse Board of Directors spokeswoman Cindy Sanford, it is not The Lighthouse.

In the meantime, victims in need of shelter services will continue to be taken to one of 16 shelters in surrounding counties.

Wayne County and the United Way will fund the domestic violence programs until the end of the fiscal year. The approximately $34,000 price tag will be split between what the county had left over from its $30,000 Lighthouse appropriation and from the almost $23,000 designated by United Way donors for domestic violence programs.

Already Wayne Uplift has begun applying for local, state and federal funds to continue the programs past June 30.

For Mrs. Holden-Cox and the rest of the organization, stepping up to provide these programs was simply the right thing to do.

"Our mission is to provide for the community as needed and we've always thought this was a great need," she said. "We had worked with The Lighthouse before and we just felt this was a time for Wayne Uplift to come to the aid of the county."

Victims in need of the domestic violence programs can once again call the old hotline at 736-1313 or the Spanish hotline at 394-1621. Wayne Uplift is housing its domestic violence programs at 719 E. Ash St.