The DeKalb County Rape Crisis Center will close its door at the end of the year if it does not come up with $80,000 to continue funding services.
The Decatur center needs the $80,000 to get through to the end of the year with its services, such as free therapy sessions, in place. Funding cuts, dwindling donations and changes in grant dispersal timing have caused the center to cut back on services, such as education and prevention programs. Allyson Gevertz, the DeKalb Rape Crisis Center board chair, said the plan is not for the center to close.
“Our plan is for us to get a cash infusion so that we don’t even have to think about [closing the center],” she said. “So, if we don’t get enough cash coming in then we will be talking about it.”
So far, the center has only received $8,261 in contributions this year compared to $21,833 received last year. The center received $19,000 from foundations last year but only $5,400 so far this year and employee giving programs last year generated $7,704 but only $3,286 this year.
Gevertz said the grants that the center receives from the state and county, along with donations and sponsorships, have decreased over the last five years because of the bad economy. She said the DeKalb County grant was decreased to $22,000 but went up to $37,000 this year. The grant was at $65,000 in 2008.
The grants pay for the therapy sessions and the center does fundraising to pay for other costs.
“But the thing that’s different right now is that our federal and state grant budget years have changed,” she said. “For example, instead of the budget year going from June 1 to May 31, the budget year has been changed to go from Sept. 1 through Aug. 31 with no funding during the gap time.”
If the grant funding starts coming in, Gevertz said, the center would still need a couple of more months of funding because the grants are reimbursement grants, which allows them to spend the money to provide services and they get by the grant reimbursed.
“At some point early in 2013 we’ll be back caught up in that cycle of being able to turn in our [expenseses] and get reimbursed,” she said. “Even with that cycle in place we’ve still been having to dip into savings and that’s what scary too.”
Gevertz said the center has gone through all of its savings except for a small amount.
“So we need to rebuild our savings so that if we do have problems in the future or they change the budget again or something we’ll at least have a little bit of a cushion so that we can pay our staff.”
Gevertz said the center would love to have donors step up and give more and often. Although the center maintains a waiting list of sexual assault survivors seeking services, therapists are being asked to stop seeing new clients until the center can secure more funding.
“Right now we just want to keep the therapy going,” she said.
If the center closes, Gevertz said, it will have a huge impact on rape and sexual assault survivors and the community.
“The DeKalb Rape Crisis Center is the only center that offers free group and individual counseling for survivors,” she said. “We also offer teen groups and we’re the only one with a bilingual therapist on our staff.”
Clients would have to either go to Grady Memorial Hospital or to the Gwinnett County Rape Crisis Center in Duluth.
“They don’t have the same services that we have but that would be our only choice,” she said. “We could be sending our survivors out there, or the alternative would be for them to pay and the going rate for therapy in Atlanta is $125 an hour.”
For more information on ways to help, contact the center at (404) 377-1429 or visit www.dekalbrapecrisiscenter.org.