Self Help Center Opens New Offices In Evansville
The 40-year-old Self Help Center in central Wyoming has a new, and what it's executive director hopes, is its last home.
"Hopefully now we've found our forever home over here," Jennifer Dyer said.
The "forever home" is now at 704 Luker Lane in Evansville after four decades of locations on East E Street, South Center Street, and most recently on East Second Street, Dyer said.
It needs the space because of its important and expanding mission.
"We're a 24-hour advocacy and support service agency for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and other abuse," she said.
Its programs include working with clients such as help with protection orders, safety planning, support during court procedures, and a 30-day emergency shelter for those in immediate danger, Dyer said.
The Self Help Center also does prevention education by working in the schools, teaching older youth about the warning signs about dating violence, and teaching younger children about bullying, boundaries and appropriate touch, she said.
It provides support groups and employs a full-time mental health provider, and substance abuse treatment, Dyer said. "A lot of our clients use substance abuse to cope their victimization."
They didn't have enough room before for these programs, and the Evansville location will solve those problems, she said.
It is near Interstate 25 at the Curtis Road/Wyoming Boulevard exit; there are bus stations nearby; there's a hotel across the street to accommodate clients when the safe house is full, there are far more parking spaces compared to what was available at the East Second Street location; and gas stations, restaurants, pharmacies and other stores nearby, she said.
The Self Help Center bought the 9,000-square-foot building for $724,000. It was the former home of the Platte Valley Bank. The teller stations were removed, but the vault, desks, and pneumatic tubes for drive-up customers remained.
The local office of the federal Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program rents space in the building, but it has plans to leave. After that, the Self Help Center intends to expand with classrooms and large group discussion rooms for programs such as the substance abuse groups and healthy relationships classes currently held at the McKinley House, 309 N. McKinley St., she said.
The Self Help Center receives about 600 walk-in clients a year, receives about 1,500 crisis calls through it's hot line, and hosted 147 clients -- women and children -- at the safe house, Dyer said.
Some clients are helped with restraining orders so they can remain in their homes, she said.
But some clients require more drastic help, meaning they need to flee Casper, Dyer said. "This year we have spent $10,000 relocating clients throughout the country, and usually that takes us about about $500 or so to relocate someone."
That assistance ranges from hiring a moving van to buying a bus ticket. The Self Help Center works with similar agencies nationwide, and those who need to leave the area often go to where they have family members or employment arranged, Dyer said.
The Self Help Center has benefited, though not in a material way, from the MeToo movement and greater awareness of sexual assault and harassment that has erupted in the past year, Dyer said.
"I hope its because people feel they can come out and seek services, where before they felt alone, Dyer said. "It's created a great discussion and I hope that discussion continues. It's going to take a cultural shift, and a lot of times those cultural shifts take decades but I think it starts now and we can continue to just do better."