February 6, 2006 - Posted at 6:30 p.m. CST
JONESBORO, AR - Women and children. They leave their homes in the middle of the night. Many times, to escape deadly violence. Their refuge: the Women's Crisis Center of Northeast Arkansas.
The only problem is that this "safe haven" is experiencing a crisis of its own.
Vicki Crego is the Exec. Director for the center. She recently gave us a tour of the current facility. She showed us how it only has one bathroom with a shower; which, on any given day, may have to handle 20 to 25 people that seek shelter at the center.
Another bathroom upstairs is only equipped with a tub. "This has had numerous, numerous plumbing problems and so sometimes it is even out of order," Crego said.
That is just the beginning of problems with the old house that has been home to the shelter since 1993. $ 100,000 worth of budget cuts during the current presidential administration haven't helped.
The shelter is strapped for cash and space. In the kitchen, there are only five chairs. So only five people can sit here at a time. That leaves very little counter space, very little cabinet space and you're talking 20-25 women at one time using this space.
Cramped spaces, like a laundry room equipped with a single washer and dryer, result in stress. Stress these women thought they left behind.
Crego says, "It is very stressful for a woman to leave her home and come into a facility that is strange to her with her children and then have to deal with the stress of not having enough space.
Sue Monsey has received help, as a resident of the shelter. She explains, " I really didn't want to be around people. I wanted privacy and it's crowded here and so if I wanted to be alone to relax or to breathe or to take a bath. It was difficult because other women needed the bathroom. Living conditions could be better.
Crego points to pictures from a women's shelter in Florida. Crego and others are hoping a new, much more accomodating structure can be built here in northeast Arkansas. She says, "that is our number one priority right now, to design a building that will accomodate our client's needs, that will allow us to continue to grow.
It's a vision Crego hopes the community will embrace. "A lot of the women and children that come to our facility are traumatized and they sometimes just need a quiet place to go and sit and hold their child. And that is not possible here.
If you would like to help the Women's Crisis Center of Northeast Arkansas in this building effort, you can send contributions to: P.O. Box 721, Jonesboro, Arkansas 72403. Or call 870-933-9449, if you are the victim of domestic violence. The center can help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.