By Terry Card
It is an unfortunate part of our society. We read about it or hear about it on TV. The beating and death of a mother and her children by a father in a drunken rage.
However, many forms of domestic violence are so much a part of everyday life for some families that it goes unreported. Why is that? Fear is a major factor. Often the mother fears for her life and the lives of her children if she goes to the police; fear of people knowing about the family’s dirty laundry or fear of authorities in a society that is foreign are other factors.
Until recently the abused had nowhere to turn. There was no one they could trust to call and no safe place to go. However, there are always those who are not afraid to stand above the crowd. Those who are willing to offer their hand to others when there is no personal benefit in doing so.
On Saturday, July 29th at the San Luis Hotel Ballroom in Galveston, 5222 Seawall Blvd, The Resource & Crisis Center will proudly honor such a person. The Resource & Crisis Center is the place where the victims of domestic and sexual violence are protected and comforted.
Coming from an iconic family synonymous with resurrecting Galveston after the Great Storm of 1900 and continuous philanthropic work since that time, it is no surprise that the woman who stood up with Susan Baker, along with four other brave women who took on a task that was not even supposed to be talked about at the time, was and is a Grand Dame of Galveston.
Peaches Kempner took on that Herculean project in 1979 working with the Galveston County YWCA (Young Women’s Christian Association) and her core group within the YWCA to reach out to women subject to domestic violence and who had no place to turn.
Over time this informal aspect of the YWCA became so important that in 1984 it was formalized as The Women’s Resource & Crisis Center and incorporated as a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization. Twenty years later the Women’s portion of the title was dropped to reflect the little known cases of domestic violence toward males.
What most people do not realize is that there are many different forms of domestic violence besides physical and sexual violence that can be just as debilitating for the victims. For families, including juveniles, controlling behavior and dominance, usually by the husband and father, strike fear into their hearts and suffocates them not only in their life within the family environment, but also in their relations with people outside their family. They are subjected to verbal, emotional, and financial abuse that does not allow them to be “normal.” They cannot bring outsiders into their home in case they witness the erratic and often violent behavior that is the overriding feature of their lives.
That is why the work done by Peaches Kempner, and now continued by the Resource & Crisis Center (RCC), is so important. It provides a shoulder to lean on and a place for these victims to turn.
For those who need help, the RCC provides case management support for their new “clients,” connecting them with Community Support resources. In-house, RCC provides psychological therapy, legal resources, a safe shelter environment, and education about violence and abuse in all their forms and how to deal with them. In addition, they also foster access to out-of-house programs providing assistance with psychological and mental health issues, family health, substance abuse therapy, and financial education and support.
When a new family arrives at their doorstep, they first assess the situation, then decide the best course of action on a case by case basis. Services can be anything from financial and job placements to health care, education, and helping find shelter and food.
All of this work and the programs supported require significant financial expenditure. Fortunately for RCC, they have wonderful partners giving them money to fund the necessities of their charity work. Partners include the Kempner Foundation, The Moody Foundation, Moody Permanent Endowment (Moody Methodist Church), Broomberg Foundation, Ippolito Foundation, and Houston Endowment.
In addition, the Galveston Resale store just recently moved to a larger space at 2025 Broadway. The League City store is at 150 N. Gulf Fwy., and the La Marque store is at 12007 Delaney Rd. The Resale stores provide 27% of the revenue needed to provide the services, private donations are about 30%, and public support through the Federal Department of HHS and through the Texas Attorney General’s Office is 43%.
RCC is embarking on a fund drive to raise more than $4 million to help pay for the mortgage secured to purchase the site at 1204 45th and build a new 3,300 square foot facility. For the past 20 years, RCC has used donated or rented space. The programs and assistance they provide has grown exponentially, but the space has not. With the new facility they will be able to double the number of people sheltered each month in a family friendly environment rather than a dormitory subsistence.
The driving force behind the existing facility and the fund raising for the new building is Executive Director Selah Tacconi, who was born in Indiana but moved to Texas at age 13. After graduation from the University of Houston, she moved to Galveston and began working at RCC. She then left to get her M.E.d. while working at GISD. Subsequently, she returned to RCC because of her passion to provide for those less fortunate. Never losing sight of the importance of fundraising, she strives to develop relations with donors. All donations matter, whether it is small donations such as diapers and supplies or large donations, RCC is grateful for all donations and is especially appreciative of its event, medical, legal, hot-line, and store volunteers. RCC welcomes anyone who is willing to help.
In conjunction with honoring Peaches Kempner, the July 29th gala is a fundraiser called Casino For A Cause. Individual tickets are $150. Table prices range from $350-$5,000. This is a worthy cause deserving of the community’s support. Domestic violence can touch any family! For more info go to rccgc.org.