ENCINITAS — The Community Resource Center celebrated 30 years of helping the most vulnerable members of society on Sept. 26 at its annual gala.
The formal affair highlighted the organization’s accomplishments and continued work in the community. Despite a crushing financial blow delivered in July when the state legislature took away $200,000 from the group’s domestic violence shelter funding, the mood was optimistic.
In fact, several clients of the shelter Carol’s House gave written testimonials about the importance of the transition from a cycle of violence to safety and self-sufficiency. “Thank you for giving me and my kids our lives back,” one client, who asked not to be identified, said.
Executive Director Laurin Pause said the financial setback came at a time when the demand for services is on the rise. “This (Carol’s House) is a high-profile program for the state,” she said. “This was considered untouchable. For it to have been line-itemed out of the budget was such a shock that our mouth’s dropped open.”
According to Pause, six domestic violence shelters in the state have closed due to government budget cuts. The silver lining for Carol’s House is that the programs do not rely solely on government funding. “We physically own Carol’s House,” Pause said, “but we have to staff it and support the programs that help these women become self-sufficient.”
Carol’s House opened in 2004. Carol Cianfarani was the impetus for funding the domestic violence shelter that doubled the capacity of the existing shelter for women and their families. Together with Pause, Cianfarani and other volunteers built coalitions between municipalities, various government officials, private businesses and community volunteers to make the vision became a reality. The shelter was physically built in just 18 days.
In an economy that has most households pinching pennies, Suzie Colby, the organization’s public relations and development director said donors remain supportive of the center. According to early estimates, the gala raised more than $200,000 this year, roughly $25,000 more than in 2008. “I think it says a lot about the level of loyalty and investment that we get from supporters who truly believe in the program,” Colby said. “The gala is critical to keeping the CRC’s programs alive,” Pause said. “The fact that it came through at a higher level than last year with the economy shows how supportive the community is of CRC.”
The group’s proven track record is in their favor. “In 2008, we had a 97 percent success rate, which means the client didn’t return to the abuser,” Pause said. Colby added that individual donors have a “personal investment” in the group. “We have donors volunteering, who are involved with the organization on the ground level,” she said. “They see it working first-hand.”
While the organization exceeded its fundraising goal of $150,000 at the gala, Colby said there are others factors she uses to measure achievement. “I think the community feel of that event was tangible, for that reason alone it was a success,” she said. “There were so many people there that are part of CRC’s success and putting them in the same room as clients was a beautiful thing to see.”