Lucy’s House: A safe haven from violence

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For almost 14 years, Lucy’s House has helped victims of domestic or sexual abuse rebuild and get a fresh start on life.

A six-bed confidential domestic violence safe dwelling in Rome, Lucy’s House was named for Lucy Stevens Kingsley Rutherford, whose foundation funded a major portion of the initial renovations of the home.

Lucy’s House has two staff members and serves all of western Oneida County. All services provided through the program are free and confidential to women, said Kari R. Procopio, grants and communications director for the YWCA Mohawk Valley. Its mission is to provide shelter and support to women and children fleeing violence in their homes. At Lucy’s House, victims are offered the opportunity to rest, heal and reconnect with themselves and their children in a safe, supportive environment.

“Lucy’s House provides victims with safe and comfortable living quarters,” Procopio said. “Support begins with a safe, comfortable bed where a woman and her children can sleep through a fearless night, sometimes for the first time. During their stay, individuals receive basic essentials, such as food, clothing and hygiene items, as well as extensive support services.”

As for “extensive support services,” staff will help coordinate counseling services for victims, and YWCA advocates will help guide women whether they need to work with Child Protective Services, the court system or police. In addition, staff works to help children adjust to the shelter. If they are school-aged and at the home for an extended period of time, staff will arrange for them to attend school and while they’re in residence, plan specific age-appropriate educational and recreational activities, Procopio said. Staff also works closely with school counselors and teachers and other providers to make sure all children’s needs are met.

During 2014, Lucy’s House has served 47 individuals — 28 women and 19 children. The shelter provided 1,059 bed nights and served 3,177 meals. The home has never been at full capacity, had to turn anyone away, or find an alternative living arrangement for victims, Procopio said. But Lucy’s House is not the only place for victims of domestic violence to turn.

“It’s important to remember that Lucy’s House is just a small component of the comprehensive domestic violence services provided in Rome,” Procopio said. “In addition to Lucy’s House, YWCA Mohawk Valley serves Rome with a Domestic Violence/Sexual Violence Non-Residential Services program. Our program provides 24-hour crisis intervention to victims and secondary victims of domestic and sexual violence. Services include a 24-hour hotline, advocacy and accompaniment through medical, CPS, police and court proceedings.”

In 2013, 50 percent of Lucy’s House residents left for safe and sound domiciles, and some individuals moved on to Willow Commons, which is transitional housing located in Utica. In 2014, the exit rate increased to 68 percent, and the goal for 2015 is to steadily increase that rate, Procopio said.

“In 2015, Lucy’s House will continue its mission of providing a safe dwelling for victims of domestic abuse and assure that all its services are inclusive,” she said. “The increase in ‘safe and sound’ exits in 2014 is a testament to the dedicated, compassionate staff and the support they provide.”

Procopio said, “In 2015, advocacy services will be enhanced as the YWCA was the recent recipient of a Violence Against Women Grant award, which will expand our reach to rural areas, enhance collaboration with the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office, and establish an advocacy presence in the rural court system.”

A Domestic Violence Support and Counseling Group will also be expanded to Rome in 2015. The support group will be free, safe and confidential, and held at Rome Memorial Hospital. For more information, women may call the YWCA victims’ hotline at 797-7740.

In 2014, Lucy’s House received funding from the Child and Adult Care Food Program, which covers food costs for individuals age 18 and younger; the Community Development Block Grant, which covers resident assistance and outings for the residents; the Federal Family Violence Prevention and Services Act grant, which covers resident assistance and case managers; Oneida County Youth Bureau, which covers some part-time workers; the state Office of Victim Services which covers some travel costs, employees and supplies; the Rome and Utica United Way; and the Rome Community Foundation. Lucy’s House also appreciates individual donations of any kind. They may be in the form of monetary gifts or home items.

“Lucy’s House always appreciates donations of any kind,” Procopio said. “It’s always in need of paper products — like paper towels and toilet paper — as well as laundry detergent, and new bathing towels and wash cloths.”

The YWCA is also running a year-end appeal campaign that will help fund operations at Lucy’s House.

“It’s important to us that the community is constantly aware of Lucy’s House, the work we do and that it’s there,” Procopio said.

“The YWCA Mohawk Valley understands that domestic violence, if left unstopped, is repeated. In light of this, staff works with the children and their mothers to provide comprehensive, wrap-around services for the entire family.”

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