There is an effort underway in east Alabama to bring safety and security to abused women and children who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to escape their situations.
Hope Cottage of Randolph County is a faith-based non-profit organization working to open a new home for women to live in safety with their children.
Linda Jones and a group of concerned citizens started raising money for the shelter two years ago. After working in the juvenile court system in Georgia and volunteering with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), Jones said she recognized a real need.
“These women have nowhere to go because their family is not here,” said Jones. “They have no independent means of financial support. They’re dependent on this man, not only for a place to live but for money for everything, and they don’t see a way out of this.”
Randolph County Sheriff David Cofield said the facility is much needed.
“We have one to two domestic violence or some kind of domestic calls every day,” said Cofield. “This is definitely needed.”
After speaking with local law enforcement, including the sheriff, county judges and medical professionals, Jones said she found out the problem is much bigger than she originally thought. She knew people in her area need options close by, especially for the children who would typically be uprooted.
“We just thought that it would be less traumatic if there was a home where they could go here and go to their school and see their friends, where they would have some sense of normalcy,” Jones said.
The home will be able to accommodate eight women and children. The plan is to open the facility by the end of the year. Jones said it would be more than a shelter.
“We plan to have them there long enough, if they’re interested, to get their GED, or get some college classes or get a job so they can be established and put down some money on apartments or places for them to live,” said Jones. “We want to make them independent.”
While independence is important, Hope Cottage will also provide counseling, training and faith-based studies.
“We will have Bible studies for them every day, and they will be required to go to church services at the church of their choice,” Jones outlined. “We will take them to church.”
Cofield said he has needed a facility to take abused women to, so he is looking forward to Hope Cottage opening.
“I have been speaking to [Jones] for probably a year about this and have already called one time to see if they had a place,” Cofield said. “She said they weren’t up and running yet but tried to help me find a place for a lady who was in a domestic violence situation and had nowhere to go. It was 20 degrees outside, and she had no friends or family to stay with.”
The sheriff’s office was able to get the woman a hotel room for the night, and the county gave her money for food for that one night, but Cofield said the county needs more options.
“If Hope Cottage would’ve been open there, it would’ve been great,” Cofield said. “It would’ve been a place for her to go until she got back on her feet.”
The women at Hope Cottage will also learn conflict resolution and anger management. Even the children will have these sessions based on their age and level of understanding.
“This is so that everybody can learn to deal with anger and conflict through a constructive manner rather than through violence or hitting and things like that,” Jones explained.
There will be a house mother 24/7, and security measures have been put into place. The exact location of the shelter will not be disclosed to ensure the safety of the women and children who come to the home.
Jones said domestic abuse could impact anybody, and she wants women to know that their lives don’t have to be that way.
“I know that while our typical image of a battered woman is a woman that has the bruises, the black eye, who looks like an abused woman,” Jones added. “But there are also professional women, who have professional husbands and who live the normal life to the outside world, but at home, it is chaotic.”
“We run across so many different kinds of incidences with all kinds of different people,” Cofield said.
Domestic incidents can be some of the most dangerous for law enforcement response. When tensions are already high, Cofield said deputies have to be very careful when approaching. His deputies also undergo training on how to deal with those types of situations. He said Hope Cottage will help everyone have a little peace of mind after coming back from domestic violence calls.
“We will probably use it a lot,” said Cofield. “It will probably fill up quick, but it will be nice to not have to worry when we don’t have anywhere for them to go.”
Hope Cottage will also provide clothing and food, but donations are needed.
“We need the public’s help right now,” Jones advised. “We need clubs, businesses and individuals to commit to donating to keep the house sustainable for at least two years.”
Several local churches have already committed to donating to the cause.
Hope Cottage will apply for grants, but a lot of those grants require it to be in operation for one to two years.
To donate, you can send a check to P.O. Box 366, Wedowee, AL 36278. You can also call Jones at (678) 953-9677.