Fiscal challenges threaten domestic violence shelter

It was a stunning blow two weeks ago when the Council on Domestic Abuse announced that its domestic violence shelter was in danger of closing because of financial strains. Even though the vast majority of residents will never have to use the facility, there is a collective understanding that such a service is a major community asset.

CODA officials said if the organization wasn't able to raise $150,000 by Sept. 14, the local shelter would have to shut its doors, at least temporarily.

The shelter was housing 37 people at the time of the announcement. No new residents have been accepted since then and won't be unless the financial issues are resolved. Staff was working to place the current residents at other locations.

The value of the shelter to Terre Haute and beyond could be seen by the way the community responded to news of the impending shelter closure.

Within a week of the announcement, CODA had received more than $17,000 in donations. And that was before the Wabash Valley Community Foundation issued a $50,000 challenge grant to help CODA restore full residential services. The Foundation pledged to donate an additional $1 for every $2 donated to CODA, up to the total of $50,000.

By the end of last week, CODA donations had reached $43,000.

There is still a long way to go, but things are looking up. There were various fundraisers around the community last weekend, and on Tuesday, the Vigo County Sheriff's Department presented a check to CODA for $5,133, gathered from staff donations and a fundraising car wash.

It's unfortunate that a service as valuable as CODA's domestic violence shelter has to resort to desperate measures, such as this last-minute, high-stakes fundraising drive, to stay in business.

Nevertheless, we hope CODA succeeds in reaching its urgent financial goal. The community's response has been heartening and we commend all those who have rallied to provide financial help. But we also hope the organization can resolve its financial challenges in the long term so it can concentrate more on providing its crucial service and less on the stress of remaining fiscally viable.

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