News from the greater Munising area
The Women’s Center – which provides free resources to domestic and sexual assault victims in Alger and Marquette counties – held its year-end ask event at Gallery Coffee Company in downtown Munising on Nov. 10. Staff, board members and advocates were present to provide attendees information about the organization’s services, programs and fundraiser campaigns.
Two heart-wrenching videos featuring survivors of domestic and sexual violence were shown as well. After sharing their traumatic experiences, each person discussed services they received at the Women’s Center and how helpful the support they received was to their overall wellbeing.
First established in 1973, the Women’s Center has served thousands of people in Alger and Marquette counties. The organization operates the Harbor House in Marquette – the area’s only emergency shelter for victims and their children, and offers support counseling, court advocacy, a 24/7 help and information line and much more.
“I just started at the Women’s Center in April and I’m still learning about some of the services we offer,” Andrea Lumikoski, fund development director of the Women’s Center, said at the event. “My mind is blown because we don’t just house survivors at Harbor House and let them go when they feel like they’re safe, we gear them up with resources whether that be giving them phone cards, helping them pay to fix their car, or by having a court advocate guiding them through that process. We try to help with whatever we can.”
The Women’s Center partnered with Upper Peninsula Animal Welfare Shelter and Northern Michigan University in 2013 to form the Sasawin Safe Haven. Through the program, animals of survivors are fostered until they can be reunited with their humans again. According to the Sasawin website, over 70 percent of survivors entering the Harbor House report that the perpetrator threatened, abused or killed their family pet.
“A lot of people don’t want to leave their homes when they have a fur baby,” Lumikowski said.
Although 65 percent of the Women Center is funded by state and federal money, those monies are becoming more difficult to obtain.
“The Victim of Crime Act money funds the majority of our staffing and we’ve been told that by next year there will be a significant reduction, which we are preparing for by having annual campaigns and asking local foundations for help,” said Beth Casady, executive director of the Women’s Center. “A bulk of that money also goes toward getting survivors things like new tires for their vehicles, gas cards and a multitude of other things to help them get their lives back.”
The Nifty 250 and Year End Ask Campaign are two of the Women’s Centers fundraising efforts. The organization also operates a donation-based resale store at 1310 S. Front St., Marquette called Pak Rat with all contributions going toward services and programming at the Women Center.
For more information on services or to donate to the Women’s Center, visit wcmqt.org.
Editor’s note: Jaymie Depew is the communications and special project assistant for the Alger County Chamber of Commerce/Greater Munising Bay Partnership for Commerce Development, Munising Downtown Development Authority and Munising Visitors Bureau.