The state might be failing to provide support for local domestic violence agency South Suburban Family Shelter (SSFS), but the Homewood-Flossmoor community is working to fill the funding gap.
On Thursday, March 23, Loulou Belle shop in downtown Homewood hosted a fundraising event for SSFS, and on Saturday, March 25, Action for a Better Tomorrow (ABT) held a dinner party in Flossmoor to raise money for the agency.
The ABT event filled the Flossmoor Community House with community members who came out to show their support for SSFS.
"We are absolutely stunned at this turnout," said Danielle Nolen-Ragland, one of ABT's four local administrators.
Jennifer Gabreyna, executive director of SSFS, said she, too, was thrilled with the response.
The event was a result of the shelter's Tell 7 campaign, launched in January in response to the news that state funding would be cut as a result of a budget stalemate in Springfield. The state has been operating without a budget for about two years. A stopgap measure kept schools funded this year, but social service agencies were mostly left out.
The campaign message urges area residents to contact legislators to urge them to restore funding, give what they can and tell seven friends to do the same.
SSFS will hold its annual fundraising gala on May 6, but in the meantime, community support has increased as a result of the campaign, Gabreyna said. She said recent fundraising efforts had attracted about 65 percent increase in new donors, and money raised was more than one-third higher than the previous year.
"The community has answered the call," she said.
Gabreyna said the surge in donations from donors will help the agency keep services going, "because we can't continue to rely on the government."
"It's on us. We're going to be the ones to make it happen," she said in remarks to the audience. "Every single person who comes through our doors is going to have an opportunity to change their life because of you."
Vicki Meilach, SSFS community outreach coordinator, briefly described the shelter's services, which are available to women, men and children who are victims of domestic violence.
Tax-deductible gifts can be sent to South Suburban Family Shelter, 18139 Harwood Ave., Homewood.
‘Tell 7’ campaign spreading the word on SSFS lack of state funding (Jan. 31, 2017)