Local Sexual Assault Treatment Centers Receive Grants in Honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month
4Girls Foundation grants benefits sexual assault treatment centers in Florida
Tallahassee - The 4Girls Foundation announced last week that four of Florida’s local sexual assault treatment centers would receive grants n honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, April. The foundation donated $20,000 in four, $5,000 mini-grants to benefit Florida’s local rape crisis centers affiliated with their longtime partner the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence.
The Perkins family, founders of the 4Girls Foundation, announced the recipients from St. Petersburg, Ocala, Tallahassee and Punta Gorda following the conclusion of Lauren’s Kids’ fifth annual Walk in My Shoes walk across the Florida. Ashley Perkins, 4Girls Board Member and foundation namesake, was very involved in this year’s Walk, which engaged Sexual Assault Treatment Centers statewide and empowered the survivors they serve.
“Florida’s Sexual Assault Treatment Centers are such an incredible resource for victims, survivors and their families,” said Ashley Perkins. “4Girls is proud to join Lauren’s Kids and the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence in supporting these centers as they work to heal survivors and prevent sexual violence in communities across Florida.”
The 4Girls Foundation received more than 20 applications from centers across the state. Perkins explains that each application highlighted the centers’ creative efforts to expand their services to local families, making it a challenge to choose only four recipients.
The recipients of the grant include:
· Suncoast Center (St. Petersburg - Serving Pinellas County) Healing Garden
Suncoast Center holds the certification for Pinellas County’s only Children’s Advocacy Center and Rape Crisis Center dedicated to protecting and supporting children and adults confronting one of life’s worst experiences. Per month, an average of 1,100 abuse reports are made to the Pinellas County hotline and reviewed by Suncoast Center. Last year 1,413 and in 2012, 1,458 children were evaluated for symptoms of sexual abuse, child abuse and/or neglect.
Suncoast Center will use the 4 Girls grant money to integrate nature and therapy, by developing a healing garden where trauma services therapists and rape crisis advocates will conduct therapy sessions and incorporate planting projects, group meditation and other experiential activities to improve quality of life to those affected by abuse. Teaching the basic concepts of sowing positive seeds and nurturing growth over time, along with mindfulness in nature, which are coping skills that survivors can take with them long after therapy is complete.
· Refuge House (Serving Tallahassee/Big Bend Region) Campus Sexual Assault
The mission of Refuge House is to provide direct services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and to their children and families, as well as to eliminate such violence through community education and public advocacy. The organization plans to use this grant to fund a project that will have a significant impact on the community’s response to campus sexual assault in many ways.
The project's primary goal is to increase the number of student rape victims seeking forensic exams by 15%, over the next year. They plan to do this by creating and distributing a needs assessment, developing and facilitating community training on the dynamics of campus sexual assault and by educating and motivating community leaders to understand and promote Refuge House's community action plan.
· C.A.R.E. (Punta Gorda - Serving Charlotte County) Yoga and Meditation Classes
The Mission of the Center for Abuse and Rape Emergencies, Inc. (C.A.R.E.) of Charlotte County is to help victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and other violent crimes in Charlotte County. C.A.R.E. administers Charlotte County’s Certified Rape Crisis Response Center, the County’s 24-bed Certified Domestic Violence Center, a 24- Hour Crisis Hotline, and provides on-site trained Victim Advocates within the local Office of the State Attorney, the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office, and the City of Punta Gorda Police Department. C.A.R.E. responds to all local emergency rooms. C.A.R.E. is the after hours provider of 2-1-1 information and referral services for Charlotte County.
With the funds provided, the organizations will provide sexual assault survivors with six-week series of yoga/meditation classes at no cost to them. Research demonstrates that in order to heal sexual trauma, a holistic healing approach must be used, integrating body, mind and spirit. Based on the evaluations, the Yoga Sanctuary and C.A.R.E. will assess the feasibility of building this project into an ongoing service.
· Ocala Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center (Ocala – Serving Marion County)
Horses 4 Healing Program
The mission of the Ocala Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center is to aid, comfort and empower victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. They serve nearly 4000 individuals annually.
The center plans to use awarded funds to help children that have been sexually abused through their "Horses 4 Healing" program. Working with the horses provides a challenging, fun and therapeutic healing process. The “Horses 4 Healing” program was born out of a need to find alternative therapy options for young sexual abuse survivors.
This is the second year the 4Girls Foundation and Lauren’s Kids have come together with the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence to highlight and fund initiatives of local children’s advocacy and sexual assault treatment programs across Florida.
Lauren’s Kids is a non-profit organization that works to prevent abuse and help survivors heal. Lauren Book, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse who endured abuse at the hands of her nanny for six years, started the organization, which has offices in Aventura and Tallahassee, Florida. Her organization offers a 24-hour crisis hotline, elementary school prevention curriculum, an annual 1,500-mile awareness walk, legislative advocacy and speaking engagements. For more information, visit laurenskids.org