Transforming Lives | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Transforming Lives


Domestic violence affects one in three women in their lifetimes, according to the Family Violence Prevention Fund. The staff at the Center for Violence Prevention is trying to quell the national and statewide epidemic of violence against women, particularly in the metro area, by transforming the lives of the women who come to them.

Despite all the lives that the shelter has helped to rebuild after devastating abuse in 2005, the center was in trouble.

"I wish you could see what this place was like before," Executive Director Sandy Middleton says. "We've completely renovated our building, and in the last two months, we were able to demolish two structures. A lot of people have come here and stayed (for a while but) didn't expect to and have been really comfortable."

The shelter's environment is warm and inviting with its "just like home" charm, but it's the center's staff who provide the stability the residents need most.

Before Middleton directed the shelter, she was a volunteer consultant. When she had the opportunity to elevate her volunteer status to director, she took it. "This place just really gets to you," she says. "Once you get here, you don't want to leave."

Not only do the shelter's residents benefit from the support the staff gives them, the staff also gets satisfaction from watching women change their lives.

Angela Watkins, who's served as a case manager at the shelter for seven years, says working with the women at the Center has changed her. "Now, I'm able to reach out to others, and I can help my friends and family and give them information. I'm an entirely different person," she says.

Staff at the Center are grateful for the expanded efforts of the Attorney General's office, but they hope for more. Eventually, the shelter would like to expand and develop a program for abusers. They also have big plans to train teachers to recognize the signs of domestic abuse and assist potential victims.

The Center for Violence Prevention offers a crisis and referral line, temporary shelter, counseling services, workshops for the community, a second-chance retail store and a daycare for the children of mothers who are in the shelter. If you're interested in volunteering or know someone who would benefit from the center's services, call 601-932-4198. You can also help the center by partying with a purpose Thursday, May 17, at the JFP-sponsored Chick Ball. All funds raised at the ball go directly to The Center for Violence Prevention.

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