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Local Shelter Affected by Govt. Shutdown
BALDWIN COUNTY, Ala. (WPMI) For nearly 20 years, the Lighthouse of Baldwin county has served as a safe house for anyone suffering the effects of domestic violence. The Lighthouse serves both Baldwin and Escambia County Alabama.
Its the only emergency domestic violence shelter in the area. It gets about 60 to 70% of it's funding from the Federal Government. Directors now fear they will have to reduce their staff of 15 employees down to just one in order to keep the most basic programs going.
"They are people in danger they are victims of domestic violence who have no other safe place to go," said Joanne Sheils Executive Director of the Lighthouse. Now because of the Federal Government shutdown some of those victims may have to go back - and face danger again.
"We are going to do everything we can to conserve and prolong the most basic services of the crisis line and safe shelter. I cant give you a timeline exactly," said Sheils.
Calls to the Lighthouse crisis hotline will likely keep coming - but if the money dries up there may not be anyone to answer the calls or man the shelter that keep victims safe. "These are people who may have been confined to their homes not allowed to leave their homes not allowed to communicate with family. They may have been physically assaulted by spouses or romantic partners sexually assaulted," said shelter counselor Glenda Fleming.
In many cases children are the victims too. If donations don't come in soon they will be forced to shut down. "If you do hear me talk its because I need to be saying something and right now i need to be saying something. I'm putting a call out to the community to our friends and neighbors we need help we need your support in this time of need," said Sheils.
It takes $60,000 a month to run the shelter. The director says even if congress gets it's act together this week. It could take up to six weeks for the federal money to funnel through.