October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Locally, Domestic Violence Project, Inc. (DVPI) has been providing services for more than 40 years. Executive Director Cheli Curran answers some questions about the agency.
About: What is the history behind DVPI’s beginning?
DVPI: Our organization was formed as a nonprofit in 1978 by three women: Nancy Boylan, Helen Syrios and Gertrude Kennedy. They are the founding mothers. While they volunteered at different organizations in Stark County in the 1970s, they discovered the lack of services offered in Stark County for victims of domestic violence and their children. While facing adversity by some in the community, the founding mothers began serving and sheltering hundreds of women per year in Stark County.
About: How has DVPI expanded?
DVPI: Since 1978, DVPI has expanded to a holistic continuum of services. It has been difficult getting there along the way. For example, in the 1990s, DVPI began shifting from grassroots support to formalized, professional services. DVPI’s legal advocacy team grew to five, operating in the Canton and Massillon court system and providing support to clients throughout legal processes.
About: What was one of the major accomplishments in recent history for DVPI?
DVPI: We opened the Canton Domestic Violence Project Family Services Center in 2004, bringing DVPI’s services under one roof. With its shelter and advocacy programing continuing to serve the community, DVPI once again expanded its services to provide teen dating violence prevention and mediation services.
About: How prevalent are domestic violence incidents now?
DVPI: According to the 2018 Domestic Violence Report by the Ohio Attorney General, Stark County residents reported 3,543 incidents of domestic violence (about 10 each day). The total number of domestic violence incidents reported has increased from recent years, and DVPI’s shelters always operate at full capacity.
The wisdom and vision of the founding mothers allowed DVPI to provide these essential services to victims of domestic violence in Stark County, and DVPI’s impact can be seen by the sheer amount of people it supports in the community. In 2019 fiscal year alone, DVPI sheltered 208 adults and 201 children in its shelters, provided legal advocacy services for 947 clients, provided outreach and aftercare services to 178 clients and provided community awareness and training programs to an audience of 2,629 in the community.
About: If I want to donate, how can I do so?
DVPI: Visit dvpi.squawqr.com.
NEED HELP? For anyone needing assistance, there is a 24-hour hotline at 330-453-7233.