ROGERSVILLE — After CEASE Domestic Violence and Assault Inc. opened its permanent office in Rogersville last September, it became apparent there’s a major demand for the services it provides in Hawkins County.
CEASE officials addressed the Hawkins County Commission during Friday’s 2018-19 budget hearings seeking to be added to the budget contribution list to the tune of $5,000 so it can afford to help more victims of domestic assault and sexual abuse.
CEASE began in Hamblen County in 1981 and has provided services for Hawkins County victims of domestic violence and sexual assault for more than 20 years.
This past September, CEASE opened its first Hawkins County office in Rogersville at 1405 S. Armstrong Road next door to the United Way office.
Executive Director Donna Kelly told the County Commission that before the local office opened during the 2016-17 fiscal year, CEASE served only 28 people from Hawkins County.
In the first eight months after its office opened in Rogersville, CEASE provided counseling and safety planning for 88 people; helped six abuse victims find a new home; helped five with resume and job skills; moved two into a CEASE emergency shelter; answered 34 crisis calls; helped victims receive 15 orders of protection with free legal aid; and helped seven people receive emergency financial assistance.
“With that kind of growth, just from opening the doors here and having someone here permanently, we feel like we’re going to see an exponential amount of growth as well,” Kelly said.
That office staffs a full-time domestic assault advocate, Jenna Wingo, and a part-time sexual assault advocate who will become full time in July thanks to some grant funding.
Cease serves six counties including Hawkins and offers three main services.
1. It teaches prevention and awareness, offering training programs in schools, jails, businesses, and anywhere else its services area requested.
2. It offers crisis intervention, responding to individuals in need. CEASE has a 24-hour crisis hotline (1-800-303-2220) victims can call and talk to a counselor, be assigned an advocate or receive shelter 24/7 at one of CEASE’s two facilities in Morristown and Tazewell.
3. And it works to help victims establish long-term freedom from abuse through a rehousing program.
Kelly said federal grant funds pay salaries and rent. She said funds contributed by the County Commission would go directly toward benefiting Hawkins County residents.
“When she (Wingo) talks about being able to provide emergency financial assistance, that’s also identification,” Kelly said. “Most of the time someone fleeing a domestic violence situation comes in, and they don’t have access to their birth certificate, or they don’t have an ID or Social Security card, and you can’t do anything in life without those identification things. That can cost close to $100 per individual so they can go forward and start to rebuild. It also goes toward getting them new housing and those type of things. That is where we see being able to use county funds.”
The County Commission meets Friday to consider approval of all new budget requests.