Story by: Linda Simmons
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. In just a few months, the Greene County Family Justice Center will move to the old Tefft School building at Fremont and Pythian.
It’s been on the second floor of the Greene County Justice Center for just over a year and has helped more than 1,500 victims of domestic violence.
“It saves lives,” says Dan Patterson, Greene County Prosecutor.
Crime victims come for the help they need to recover and stay safe.
“If a victim comes here and they just need shelter, they don’t want to talk to the police, they don’t have to,” Patterson says.
The center offers help with things like shelter, counseling, and legal services. But the location in the courthouse was always temporary. The county needs to add another courtroom in the space, so the family justice center will soon move.
“This is a perfect example of a community collaboration coming together at the right time,” says Stephen Hall of Springfield Public Schools. “We were looking for the right opportunity for Tefft to be re-utilized in the community and a different capacity.”
When the Greene County Family Justice Center Alliance approached Springfield Public Schools about buying an old school building for it’s new home, Tefft was the perfect fit. The county got a great deal, just ten dollars.
“We’re thrilled that this is happening, because any time a building can be repurposed to further serve our community for good, that is a win for everyone in Springfield,” says Hall.
“While the courthouse is convenient in some ways,” Patterson says, “it’s actually not the ideal location for a family Justice Center. It’s better to have it a little ways away.”
The Tefft building is just over a mile from the courthouse and on the bus line. “The courthouse can be an imposing place to come, in addition to the fact that you might run into your abuser as you’re coming here and those sorts of things,” Patterson says.
With 20 thousand square feet, the Tefft building gives the family justice center room to grow and help more victims become survivors.
“We know that those who will be served by the Family Justice Center will include our students and their families,” says Hall, “and there are so many benefits that this will bring to our community.”
The county plans to do a few renovations on the building. They hope to have the Family Justice Center moved in by the beginning of April.