Charities to relocate domestic violence shelter

Rendering of shelter layout. (Graphic courtesy of Catholic Charities)

(Editor’s note: October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Catholic Charities has offered a way out for those in abusive situations for decades through counseling, advocacy and a shelter for women and children hoping to break the cycle of abuse. Bishop Joseph Kopacz recently announced that the shelter will soon have a new home. The bishop submitted the following reflection to area publications describing the new operation and inviting the community to step in and help.)
We at Catholic Charities are excited to know that in the near future the goal of a new domestic violence shelter will be realized in the city of Jackson. Early 2018, a newly renovated building will be providing a safe haven for adults and children suffering from the trauma of domestic violence and human trafficking.
Catholic Charities has provided this critical service since the 1980s and very soon we will be able to do so in a building specifically designed to serve this vulnerable population. It is challenging enough for an adult to leave a destructive relationship, but it is daunting to do so with children and youth who may or may not understand the gravity of the situation.
Our new shelter will be able to serve the children at each developmental stage while their parent or caregiver receives the support to begin again. We are so grateful for our dedicated staff at Catholic Charities who accompany our brothers and sisters, as well as for our benefactors whose generosity allows us to further our mission to serve and empower. Together we are a visible sign of Christ’s love.
The facility will be divided into three main functions: the housing area, a childcare center and offices for the administrative staff. The shelter will include eight bedrooms beautifully designed to meet the individual needs of the family. Staff members will be housed on-site to assist victims 24-hours a day. Other amenities will include a therapeutic group and counseling area, a suite of offices to assist victims, a family room, dining area and bathing facilities. The shelter will be confidentially located and will serve Copiah, Hinds, Rankin, Madison, Issaquena, Sharkey, Simpson, Yazoo and Warren counties.
The childcare program will offer individual and therapeutic groups/intervention to 35 children ranging in ages from six weeks to 12-years old. Trained staff and teachers will work in the program. The childcare program will offer enrichment activities with a well-designed playground in the rear of the building. Finally, a commercial-grade food preparation area will be onsite to prepare meals and snacks for the victims and children.
Work continues to make the shelter both safe and welcoming. The next step is to find partners in that effort. Contact the program directors for more information on how your parish, school, youth group or office can help in the final touches by calling 601-326-3714 or 601-326-3758.
Those who wish to help can also participate in the Purple Dress Run, an evening 5-K walk and run, Thursday, Oct. 19, at Hal and Mal’s in downtown Jackson. Register online by clicking the icon at

Caridades Católicas tiene nueva sede

An exterior shot of the new Catholic Charities headquarters.

An exterior shot of the new Catholic Charities headquarters.

JACKSON – Comenzando el 1 de enero del 2017 las oficinas de Caridades Católicas estarán localizadas en dos edificios en Jackson. Las oficinas administrativas, de finanzas y de desarrollo ocuparán el edificio ubicado en 850 E. River Place y las oficinas de Cuidado …. y adopción estarán en el edificio adyacente en 840 E. River Place.
El Centro de Suporte Migratorio va a tener sus oficinas en el primer piso del edificio en 850 E. River Place.
El Obispo Joseph Kopacz dijo que tanto él como los directores de los programas y el resto del personal opinan que la nueva ubicación servirá mejor al personal y a los clientes. Indicó que el espacio para cada uno de los programas tiene una mejor distribución y le provee a cada departamento el espacio necesario para llevar reuniones privadas.

Charities saves money, improves services with new headquarters

By Elsa Baughman
JACKSON – Beginning Jan. 1, 2017, Catholic Charities’ offices will be moving to a pair of adjacent buildings  in Jackson. The administrative, finance and development offices are being moved to 850 E. River Place and the offices for the Therapeutic Foster Care and adoption will be in the facility next door, 840 E. River Place.
The new offices have easy access from Interstate 55 using the Fortification Street exit and have a lot more parking spaces than the current facility in downtown Jackson.
Bishop Joseph Kopacz said that he and all the senior staff and program directors “are of one mind that the new location will better serve our staff and clients in the years ahead.” He noted the office space layout for each program is a better arrangement, giving each program its own access and privacy.

An exterior shot of the new Catholic Charities headquarters.

An exterior shot of the new Catholic Charities headquarters.

“The cost savings for the five-year lease will help to stabilize the finances immediately for Catholic Charities,” he said, adding that  the new sites represent a savings of $70,000 to $110,000 a year. “There are 160 employees in the organization and the new personnel director has been a very positive influence,” he said. He believes the new location and strengthened morale will benefit the recruitment of a new executive director. That search will start in the first quarter of the new year.
Shamir Lee and Dianne Williams, who work at the Therapeutic Foster Care division of children’s services, are excited about the new office space. “The space is bigger, so we will have a lot of more room to store materials and the best thing is that we each have our own office space,” said Lee who was unpacking her office on Dec. 7 along with Williams. Both are also happy that the kitchen is bigger than the one in the downtown building.
Renee Tanner, administrative assistant at the Therapeutic Foster Care division, thinks her work is going to be more efficient now that they will have space to conduct private

Amy Turner, director of Childrens' Services, and Rena' Tanner, administrative assistant in Therapeutic Foster Care, set up their new offices at Catholic Charities' new headquarters on River Place in Jackson. (Photo by Elsa Baughman)

Amy Turner, director of Childrens’ Services, and Rena’ Tanner, administrative assistant in Therapeutic Foster Care, set up their new offices at Catholic Charities’ new headquarters on River Place in Jackson. (Photo by Elsa Baughman)

meetings with their clients other than their own offices. “In this building we will have an area where we can have family meeting without interruptions,” she said, adding that there will have more privacy to discuss issues pertaining to their personal cases.
Bishop Kopacz said that parking will be much better and eliminates yet another additional cost. At the downtown facility, the agency had to rent parking from a contractor. The building itself did not have the spaces needed. Michael Thomas, development director, mentioned that parking as one of the greatest advantages of the new location.
The office move is not the only one in the works for Catholic Charities. The Domestic Violence Shelter has purchased a building in a new location and will relocate when renovations are complete.
The shelter provides secure housing, day care for children, life skills training and legal resources for women and children who wish to leave an abusive situation. Staff has been looking for a new location for more than a year. They are continuing to provide services during the transition to the new facility.
(Editor’s note: The Catholic Charities Annual report is inserted in this edition of Mississippi Catholic)

Domestic violence shelter to move into new headquarters

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON — Every nine seconds a woman in the United States is assaulted or beaten. Every minute, 20 people suffer from domestic violence. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but “this is not a one-month issue. This is an issue always,” said Betsy Smith, a caseworker for the Catholic Charities Domestic Violence Program.
The program, which includes an emergency shelter, group support, case management, some legal counseling, child care and, in some cases, temporary housing, is moving and expanding this year.  The old facility was in need of repair so they moved into temporary quarters until they could find a new home.
The staff hopes to be in a new building by the start of the new year. “It has room for more families, the daycare, the cafeteria and is more centrally located,” said Arteria Puckett, program director. The program serves nine counties: Copiah, Hinds, Madison, Rankin, Issaquena, Sharkey, Simpson, Warren and Yazoo.
Puckett, Smith and Sarah Bradley offer a program they hope will take women and their children “from victim to survivor to thriver,” said Puckett.
It all starts when a woman contacts the shelter. She may be ready to leave or she may need to make a plan. The staff can help in a couple of different ways. They are open 24-hours a day so they can offer an immediate safe place for a woman and her children to take shelter.
If a woman just wants resources, the staff can help her write an individualized safety plan. The form takes her through questions such as “if I decide to leave I will …,” and “I will use (Blank) as my code word for my children and friends so they can call for help.” The plan lists documents a woman may want to locate and remove so she will have them once she makes her escape and helps her think through the concrete steps of getting out.
Staff members can also invite a woman to one of the group support sessions to meet survivors and get the support she needs to take next steps.
One of the concepts the staff tries to impress upon a woman is that violence often escalates so the sooner she can leave the situation, the safer she and her children will be. They all remember a case in which a woman returned to her partner only to be beaten to death in her own home.
Once a woman and her children are at the shelter, Puckett, Smith and Bradley help her start to build a new life. Bradley can work as a court advocate, helping a woman obtain a temporary restraining order against her abuser. The center provides daycare for the children so the women can find jobs or pursue their education. Once a week, the center offers support groups with a variety of speakers, from nutritionists to job coaches who offer tips on dressing for job interviews.
The staff wants to help the women develop life skills so they don’t leave and go back to their old lives, but leave with  new – violence free – lives. “We did vision boards one night where we asked the ladies to create a vision for what they wanted their lives to be like,” said Smith.
Women can stay in the shelter for up to 45 days. If a woman is making progress, but still needs some support, they move into transitional communal housing. There, the women work and learn how to save money so they can move into a permanent situation.
Misconceptions abound when it comes to domestic violence. Puckett explained that it takes many forms, from the physical violence many people think of, to control, emotional manipulation to verbal or sexual abuse. “We heard about one case in which the man became so controlling, he followed her into the bathroom,” she said.
Puckett said many people think domestic violence is rare, but it crosses all racial, socioeconomic, geographic and educational boundaries. Men can be the victims of domestic violence as well as women.
One of the prevailing myths is that battered women can leave if they want. Puckett and Smith both said partners tend to become more controlling a suspicious as a relationship develops. He may take away her transportation, cut off her access to money, friends and family and isolate his victim so she feels she has no way to get out. “Many of our consumers come from out of state, so they have no support here. They end up depending on that guy who is abusing them,” said Puckett.
From a Catholic perspective, many women live with the myth that the church won’t let her leave an abuser. This is just not true. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a statement condemning domestic violence and outlining the church’s stand on the issue as it relates to marriage. “…we emphasize that no person is expected to stay in an abusive marriage. Some abused women believe that church teaching on the permanence of marriage requires them to stay in an abusive relationship. They may hesitate to seek a separation or divorce. They may fear that they cannot re-marry in the Church,” reads the statement. “Violence and abuse, not divorce, break up a marriage,” it continues.
The staff at the shelter wants everyone to know they are still available and will be throughout their move to the new location. Anyone in need of assistance can call the 24-hour crisis hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233).


Recognize signs, call for help

The staff at the Catholic Charities Domestic Violence Shelter
offered these warning signs to help recognize abuse:
Does your partner humiliate you or put you down in front of friends or family members?
Is your partner extremely possessive or jealous?
Do your partner need to know where you are at all times, often checking on you?
Is your view of your relationship different from that of your partner?
Are you starting to believe you are losing your mind because you are starting to believe what your partner says about you?
Do you do everything you can to try to make your partner happy, only to hear it’s all wrong?
Have you ever been afraid of your partners temper?
Have you ever not expressed your opinion of feelings because you are afraid of your partner’s reaction?
Do your partner act like the abusive behavior is nothing, blame you for it or tell you that it didn’t happen?
Has your partner ever threatened you with weapons of any sort?
Has your partner ever threatened suicide, especially if you leave?
If you are being abused, remember:
You are not to blame for being battered or mistreated
You are not the cause of your partner’s abusive behavior
You deserve to be treated with respect
You deserve a safe and happy life
Your children deserve a safe and happy life
You are not alone. There are people waiting to help.

24-Hour Crisis Hotline: 800-799-7233 (SAFE)