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Opinion

February 28, 2014

KAREN ALTERGOTT ROBERTS: Making life in Kokomo better for those in need

Help Family Service Association help others.

If suffering children were a flood, if domestic violence were a tornado, if homeless­ness were a blizzard, the people of Kokomo would come together and help make things right. We are Kokomo. We have been through a lot and when a community need is known, we step up. I have lived in different communities in Indiana, and there is no place like Kokomo for a community spirit of giving and caring, serving and doing what needs to be done.

Although the desire to help is there, at times people may find themselves without the level of knowledge and tools needed to make an impact. They may find themselves in over their heads while being too close to a situation. Often, a trained professional could help. Where can one be found?

As a community, we know some children suffer. Some parents don’t know where to get help. Others are abusive. These tragedies, small and personal, are hard for us to see. Would we know what to do if we saw a serious problem in a child’s life? As a community, we know domestic violence takes lives, shatters homes, and leads to people fleeing for their safety. Would any one of us be able to help someone experiencing physical, emotional, financial or other forms of abuse from a spouse or roommate, or an intimate or an adult child? As a community, we know there are homeless people and we know that many are veterans — from Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and other wars. Homelessness produces suffering, and when it becomes visible, we really don’t know what it is we are seeing or what to do about it.

Just like in a tornado’s wake, not everyone can be trusted with a chainsaw — not everyone has the ability to help a domestic violence victim find safety. A trained and experienced team of advocates might be necessary. The needs of victims of domestic abuse are met through the Domestic Violence Shelter, through Transitional Housing, and through crisis phone assistance to people in the community as well. Family Service Association provides the possibility of a safe place, advocacy, counsel, case management, and help in reorganizing life. FSA also helps through Non-Violent Conflict Management Training for men and women. FSA provided shelter to more than 90 adult victims of domestic abuse and their children in the last year. Providing 4,200 nights of shelter and 22,000 meals with reduced funds was challenging.

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