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Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, July 24, 2024


April 16, 2002 – With their future on the line as a result of government funding delayed or decreased, two agencies that help families in crisis are looking to see commitments kept if they are to stay in business.
At Family Resource Center on St. Thomas, things are looking up. But on St. John, the founder and executive director of the Safety Zone says time is slipping away — and with it, her hopes.
Officials at both agencies said financial strains had brought them to the point where they were ready to close at the end of April. (See "Fund cuts may force 3 abuse aid agencies to close".)
Michal Rhymer, FRC executive director, said Monday that her board of directors will meet Thursday to vote on whether to keep the 16-year-old agency once known as Women's Resource Center open. "I'm optimsitic we will be open into the month of May," she said.
Rhymer said after word that the St. Thomas crisis center was itself in crisis, telephones at FRC started ringing. Volunteers showed up with money and helping hands, she said. The Office of Management and Budget delivered a promised advanced payment of $30,000 last Friday and, according to Rhymer, six senators say they will support the appropriation of an additional $60,000. Funding for the agency is to be on the agenda for a full session of the Senate on May 22.
Meanwhile, Iris Kern, executive of the Safety Zone, said she has word from the Legislature and also from Government House about a special session on April 22 to consider her request for $100,000. "I've gotten lots of good words, but I need to see some behavior," she said.
Without the funds, Kern said, the Safety Zone will close at the end of the month. She said she is seeking local assistance to make up for federal funds that were lost because a grant application deadline was missed. Kern said she had been on the telephone as recently as Monday with Sen. Donald "Ducks" Cole and a few days earlier with Government House personnel who offered reassurances that something will be done.
The Family Resource Center money was included in the original budget request for Fiscal Year 2002, "and Sen. [Carlton] Dowe said he has identified a funding source for $60,000 in replacement funds," Rhymer said.
The two agencies provide counseling, emergency shelter, referrals, advocacy and other support to victims of domestic violence and other crimes, from the police station or hospital through the court system. In the lives of their clients, violence often has reached dangerous levels; in some cases, it has led to death.
FRC and the Women's Coalition of St. Croix are sub-grantees of the Human Services Department to provide therapeutic counseling services. The courts refer abusers to FRC and to the Men's Coalition of the V.I. on St. Croix for anger management classes.

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