Story by: Frances Watson
GREENE COUNTY, Mo. City and county leaders are reaching out to Springfield school officials to do what they can to help the families caught up in the domestic violence crisis in Greene County.
They’re hoping to transform an old schoolhouse into a new campus for the Greene County Family Justice Center.
“We knew going in that we were going to have these challenges and that it was only going to be temporary,” said Chair of the Board for the center, Dan Patterson.
In just a few short months, the Greene County Family Justice center has outgrown its 3000 square foot home.
Patterson says, “The survivors coming through have spoken. They’ve told us this is a totally different experience than you typically have dealing with government institutions and agencies. It makes it so much easier for them.”
Right now, eight agencies are under one roof to help those affected by domestic violence. The community centered organization is hoping to expand its operations.
“It has been so powerful to have the onsite partners there who, aren’t just able to collaborate but actually coordinate and provide integrated services,” says Patterson.
There’s more work to be done just not enough space to do it in. It’s why Patterson is appealing to Springfield Schools on behalf of the soon-to-be non-profit help center. They’re hoping that the district will work with them to obtain the old Tefft Center. The schoolhouse is part of the district’s surplus property. The board can donate the building or work with the center to lease the property paid for, in part by federal grants provided through the Victims of Crime Act.
The goal is to create a permanent campus for the center so that the services can be expanded.
“We already had all of these groups and agencies and individuals who cared about these people but it was hard to access them,” says Patterson.
The Tefft Center is the ideal location. It’s located near the corner of Fremont and Pythian and easy to get to. There’s a bus line that runs right in front of the building making it convenient for clients.
“What you learn is that when you bring all of those people together you can feel that hope. Hope is important,” says Patterson.
It’s that hope that helps the men, women and children affected by domestic violence secure a safer future.
“We started small and we’re dreaming big. We still have further to go. As we continue to expand and have room we can have more arms to wrap around those folks,” he says.
School board members support the idea of presented by Patterson. They plan on working with the community to meet its needs.
Officials are hoping to iron out the plans so that the Tefft Center could become the new Greene County Family Justice center within a year.
Read the original story here.