As part of this year's state budget, Sen. Rob Ortt, R-C-I-North Tonawanda, secured a total of $35,000 to help victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Niagara County. On Thursday, Ortt presented that funding with ceremonial checks to the Niagara County Sheriff's Office and two nonprofits: Family & Children's Service of Niagara and the YWCA of the Niagara Frontier.
"Domestic violence and sexual assault impact every demographic," Ortt said. "It can happen to anyone of any age, gender or race, and often leaves the victim with mental, physical and emotional scars. It's vital that we have wrap-around services available to make sure victims have the help they need. Ultimately, this funding will further community outreach, help to protect our vulnerable citizens, and help to put an end to violence in the home and community."
The NCSO received $10,000 in state funding to provide mandated domestic violence training to all its sworn officers. Members of the Niagara County District Attorney's Office and certified trainers will provide approximately 110 officers with updated policies, procedures and legal information related to domestic violence.
Family & Children's Service of Niagara also received $10,000. The money will go toward its Passage House Shelter, a 15-bed emergency shelter in Niagara Falls for domestic violence victims and their children. According to Family & Children's, the amount of victims throughout the county in need of help has increased over the past year. The funding secured by Ortt will support expenses related to the influx of individuals, including counseling services for survivors and their offspring, enhancing child enrichment programming, and around-the-clock staff coverage.
The YWCA of the Niagara Frontier received $15,000 to support domestic violence counseling, safety planning and court advocacy services for residential and nonresidential domestic violence victims throughout the county. On average, the YWCA houses about 128 domestic violence victims annually, and services an estimated 740 nonresidential domestic violence victims in one year. In addition, the YWCA responds to an average of 60 to 70 sexual assault cases per year.
Pictured, from left, at Family & Children's Niagara Falls office: Sen. Rob Ortt; Family & Children's Service of Niagara President and CEO Ken Sass; Family & Children's Service of Niagara board member Mary Ann Oliver; Family & Children's Service of Niagara Domestic Violence & Parenting Services Director Karrie Gebhardt; YWCA of the Niagara Frontier Vice President of Programs Mary Brennan-Taylor; Niagara County Sheriff's Office Domestic Violence Coordinator Susan LaRose; and Niagara County Sheriff's Office Crime Victim Advocate Stacy Suess.