Family Crisis Council seeks donations as government shutdown continues

Published 12:58 am Thursday, January 17, 2019

SALISBURY — Until recently, Renee Bradshaw didn’t need to personally solicit donations for the Family Crisis Council, which assists victims of rape, sexual assault, incest and domestic violence.

As the federal government’s shutdown became the longest on record, however, Bradshaw, the council’s director, made three calls to unnamed individuals to keep the organization running through January. She raised a total of less than $50,000, including a $20,000 and a $10,000 donation, but it’s enough to keep the organization running for now.

“Right now, I think we’re OK,” Bradshaw said. “There are people in this community that are tenderhearted and willing to step up.”

The Family Crisis Council hasn’t furloughed any workers, and Bradshaw says she’s committed to keep the center’s crisis line in operation, no matter what it takes. Still, money is tight.

The federal government shutdown began at midnight Dec. 22 — when Republicans controlled the House and Senate — and has continued into January — after Democrats took control of the House. President Donald Trump and members of Congress are at a stalemate over billions of dollars in funding for a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Hundreds of thousands of federal government employees are reported to be affected in whole or in part by the shutdown. But for Bradshaw and the Family Crisis Council, the concern is being able to help victims of sexual assault or domestic violence.

Funded through a mix of sources, including the federal government, the Family Crisis Council’s three largest grants are temporarily unavailable because of the shutdown, Bradshaw said. She declined to provide exact dollar amounts but said the grants in question mostly reimburse expenses — such as transportation, food and counseling — already incurred by the agency.

“If you’re not reimbursed, then you don’t have the money to spend on the programs,” Bradshaw said.

Last year, the Family Crisis Council served 2,355 people, including women and children. Dozens of women and children also received a place to stay for two to 90 days. In 2018, there were 774 new domestic violence clients at the Family Crisis Council and 85 new sexual assault victims.

Transitional housing is one particular example of a service affected by the shutdown, she said. The agency may not have enough money to transport a sexual assault or domestic violence victim to a safe space if the shutdown continues, she said.

“If it continues, we’re going to end up with (victims) on the street,” she said.

But Bradshaw is taking action with the hope that the shutdown will end before budgets become tighter. She’s also encouraging others to do the same.

“We all need to pray about it and call our congressmen,” she said.

For her part, Bradshaw called U.S. Rep. Ted Budd, a Republican whose 13th District covers Salisbury and parts of north and western Rowan County. Bradshaw said she spoke to a member of Budd’s staff and was told the congressman would be made aware of her concerns. 

Budd represents the Salisbury area and should be “standing up” and helping others serve underserved populations, she said.

“People that have been raped and go to the hospital for care and we can’t take them back to the shelter, tell me about that,” Bradshaw recalled saying. “What I said was from the heart and that makes a difference.”

In a statement provided to the Salisbury Post, Budd said he is disappointed that Democrats this week were invited to the White House by President Trump to negotiate and that they refused to go. Budd said he wants the government back open.

I am working hard to make sure all local agencies who receive federal dollars receive their much needed funds,” Budd said in an emailed statement. “I have called on my Democratic colleagues to come to the table and negotiate in good faith. The crisis at our southern border is very serious. We must stop the flow of illegal drugs, human trafficking, and prevent potential national security threats from entering this country.”

Rep. Richard Hudson, a Republican whose 8th District splits Rowan County with Budd, has made similar comments as the shutdown continues.

“What are Democrats afraid of Americans hearing? That 17,000+ criminals were caught last year at the border? That 90 percent of heroin in the United States comes across the southern border? That illegal border crossings dropped 90 percent-plus in areas with a wall?” Hudson wrote on Facebook Wednesday in response to news that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked for Trump to reschedule the State of the Union Address because of the government shutdown.

In a statement provided to the Post, Hudson said the crisis at the border is undeniable.

“I continue to call on my colleagues in Congress to come to the table to make a bipartisan deal to build the wall, address this crisis and reopen the government,” he said.

Bradshaw’s not holding her breath for the shutdown to end soon because, she said, she would “surely die” while doing so.

Anyone interested in making a monetary donation to the Family Crisis Council can mail it to P.O. Box 50, Spencer, NC 28159. Bradshaw said those wishing to make donations of food can call 704-636-4718 and press 1.

Contact editor Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4248.