Columbia shelter collects kitchen supplies, provides assistance for domestic violence victims

Wednesday, November 9, 2011 | 5:47 p.m. CST; updated 12:06 a.m. CST, Thursday, November 10, 2011

COLUMBIA — True North, the city's only domestic and sexual violence shelter, has been providing counseling, housing and support for more than 30 years.

Barbara Hodges, executive director of True North, said the shelter is in constant need of kitchen items for clients leaving their facility.

"When women decide to leave and start their new lives, they don't take many things with them," she said. "We help them to get started with the basics such as kitchen items."

While some visitors to the shelter are leaving a bad home situation temporarily, many are looking to find new homes and jobs. They need resources to do so.

The shelter can house up to 25 women and children. Currently, there are about nine women and eight children staying at the shelter, Hodges said, adding that the number changes daily.

"We know domestic violence obviously exists and we wish it didn't," she said. "We have between two to three hundred women and children per year who stay here for one night or several weeks."

There have been 1,318 domestic violence incidents reported in Boone County so far this year, according to a Missouri State Highway Patrol Statistical Analysis Center supplemental incident report.

Hodges said that because True North is the only domestic violence shelter in Columbia, it is vital for individuals who are victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.

"It's a much needed program," she said. "We work very hard here in Columbia and Boone County to provide safety on an emergency basis for women who need it."

True North has approximately 15 to 30 active volunteers. Hodges said the shelter holds extensive training twice a year for the volunteers. People who wish to participate can refer to the shelter's website for information about its current needs.

Besides individual counseling and referral services, True North's volunteers provide victims with assistance in various areas, including hospital advocacy, childcare and hotline services. In addition, the shelter has staff on site all day for emergencies.

Besides the different local and national grant funding that True North receives, Hodges said they also collect steady donations from the local community and are appreciative of their continuous recognition. 

Hodges said True North relies on community support "to create a safer environment for all of us and to help end domestic violence in Columbia."

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