Efforts Increase to Bring Back Domestic Violence Shelter

- FRONT ROYAL, Va. - In October 2013 the women's domestic shelter, Harmony Place, closed its doors from financial struggles. The shelter that relied strongly on grants and funding eventually ran out.

It was a temporary home women ran to, running away from abuse. Many of the women even stayed with their children and pets. The shelter housed about 16 women.

"For the community, it meant a loss of services for domestic violence and sexual assault victims. We also housed homeless women and children so there was a complete loss of those services," said Tammy Sharpe, former domestic violence coordinator of Harmony Place.

Since October, women in Warren County have had nowhere to go to for help. Some were forced to travel out of the area, such as The Laurel Center in Winchester.

"Surrounding agencies, Woodstock, Winchester, other agencies have taken that load and I'm sure that they are overwhelmed," adds Sharpe.

Now, the United Way is stepping in. The organization is working with several non-profit organizations to bring back those services. While their final goal is to rebuild another shelter, they know it will be a step-by-step effort.

Previous workers of Harmony Place offer temporary counseling services at a rented office space at the Front Royal Presbyterian Church, offering crisis intervention.

"When we looked back, we saw that there had been more than 300, almost 350 calls in a year to that particular facility, so clearly the need was there," said Lee Smith-Osina, United Way of Front Royal executive director.

Group efforts and raising grant funds will be the first step in even providing the basic services.

"We'd like to feel like we only lost seven months, and anything that happens from this point on, hopefully we will be able to manage and keep the family here where they need to be," adds Smith-Osina.

Their next big step is to guarantee permanent funding, money that will always be available in supporting the shelter.

The United Way and other organizations are currently working on an agreement with a local motel that would allow them to house some of the women there.

Major fundraising campaign may be started within the next few months, and they are looking to reinstate these services back to Warren County by May 1, 2014. 


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