CEDAR CITY – A few volunteers and a $50,000 donation is making it possible for the Canyon Creek Women’s Crisis Center to renovate and expand its 20-year-old safe house, a place for women and children fleeing domestic abuse and sexual assault.
The monetary donation is a gift from Intermountain Healthcare and the volunteer hours are provided by members of the Iron County Home Builders Association that adopted the safe house as a service project.
The homebuilders association had previously donated the time and talents of nearly 50 tradespeople on the project. When Intermountain Healthcare stepped in with the community contribution to help fund the cost associated with the expansion and remodel of the home, it was a huge relief, said Cindy Baldwin, executive director of Canyon Creek Women’s Crisis Center.
“This has taken such a huge weight off our shoulders,” she said. “It has moved up our timetable and given us the ability to do all the little things right.”
Jason Shakespeare, who chairs the project for the homebuilders association, said the work is being done at cost with most of the labor donated.
“We have spouses, families, and this project is with them in mind,” Shakespeare said. “The builders in our community are a tight-knit group even though we’re in competition with each other, and we come together when there’s a need. This is the type of thing that is right up our alley.”
Cyndi Wallace, hospital nurse administrator for Valley View Medical Center (see ed. note), echoed similar sentiments about a close community supporting its own.
“This funding is a gift from Intermountain Healthcare, but it’s a result of efforts on a local level to know and respond to the needs of our neighbors. We know and understand the mission of not-for-profits,” Wallace said. “It’s our mission too, and when Canyon Creek and its clients are safe – physically, mentally and emotionally – it helps us here at the hospital in a very real, fundamental way to help people live the healthiest lives possible.”
In the last five years Canyon Creek has more than doubled the length of stay it can offer and is consistently at full capacity, Baldwin said.
“We’ve grown and expanded so much and it has taken the whole community coming together,” she said. “I started the project not knowing the details of how it was going to get funded, but knew it would. It’s just a testament to me that if you’re doing the right thing for the right reasons, it always works out.”
The influx of clients in the shelter is due to several factors including population growth and an increase in the incidents of abuse both locally and throughout the country.
The introduction of the “Lethality Assessment Program” to Cedar City and Enoch, only one of four communities in Utah to pilot the program, has also contributed to an increase in the numbers, Baldwin said.
The program was funded by the Legislature in 2015 following a 14 percent increase in the number of domestic violence-related deaths of women and children during the previous year. At the same time, the state’s overall homicide rate declined. In the last four years, domestic violence-related deaths in Utah accounted for more than half of all adult homicides, Baldwin added.
The Lethality Assessment Program was initiated in Iron County in the summer of 2015. Since that time, 41 victims have been screened as “high danger.”
“This program creates a partnership between victim advocates and law enforcement officers to connect high-danger victims with services,” Baldwin said. “The first step of the protocol is to ask 11 evidence-based questions to help first responders evaluate the danger of a situation, and also helps victims become more self-aware about the seriousness of their situation.”
Once identified the women and children are connected to services, relocated if need and kept safe.
Read more: Community officials, responders train in averting deadly domestic violence; STGnews Video
“We’re keeping them safer and preventing the potential of homicide, but this means we’re also increasing our need for shelter, services and always funding,” Baldwin said.
If you or someone you know is in need of domestic violence services or resources, or if you want to donate to this cause, visit Canyon Creek’s website for more information.
Ed. note: In December 2015, Intermountain Healthcare announced a name change for Valley View Medical Center to Cedar City Hospital; the name change will become official May 1.
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