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Forum staff reports, Published October 08 2012

Who's helping?

YWCA of Cass Clay

Mission: The YWCA Cass Clay is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.

The YWCA’s Emergency Shelter has capacity for 65 women and children. YWCA USA is the largest provider of battered women services in the U.S. 1,300 locations in 47 states.

History: The organization has had a presence in the Cass Clay community for more than 106 years.

Services for victims of domestic violence: The YWCA provides services for children, transitional housing, education and employment services.

What executive director Erin Prochnow says:

“We focus a lot on basic needs and housing and shelter and the supportive services that go along with that so women can make that pathway back to independence.

“We just feel so strongly that it’s important to support other women. Our philosophy is really about empowerment, and we try to live that out every day in the services we provide.”

Why she works with the YWCA:

“Part of my involvement with the YWCA certainly stems from my family,” Prochnow said. “I come from a long string of social workers and advocates.”

The women who have inspired Prochnow include four aunts, her mother and her grandmother. One of Prochnow’s aunts is North Dakota Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp.

“I learned very early on, from my aunts and my mom and my grandmother that it’s important to support women. There are very few things in our lives that are more important than keeping people safe,” she said.

“They tell stories about how my great grandmother advocated for women’s rights so long ago. I think that it’s something that, in our family, has carried on for generations, and I hope will continue with my daughter as well.”

Rape and Abuse Crisis Center of Fargo-Moorhead

Mission: The agency provides services to all persons who have been affected by personal violence to include domestic violence, sexual assault and child sexual abuse.

History: The agency began in 1977.

Services for victims of domestic violence: Legal advocacy, crisis intervention, support for victims of sex offenders in treatment, diversity advocates and counseling.

Educational programs: The agency’s Red Flag Green Flag People Program and the “I Wish the Hitting Would Stop” Domestic Violence Education Program are provided to classrooms in the Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo districts and surrounding areas. Educational presentations are also made available to service groups, organizations, professional groups, businesses, churches and other interested parties.

What executive director Greg Diehl says:

“It’s so easy to talk about statistics, and how many people we saw last year – you get lost in those numbers, but there’s a face for every number. Seeing the growth in the children who come to the RACC, and seeing adults who are no able to reassert their own identity – seeing them become survivors is the best part of what we do here.”

Why he works with the RACC: “I’ve always had a helping heart mentality,” Diehl said. “I saw it as a way of combining my business background with education. Helping both children and adults who have been victimized, and doing prevention work, is very important to me as well. It’s important to me to reach kids at an early age to hopefully stop some of these things from happening when they grow up.”

Other work Diehl does to increase domestic violence awareness: Four years ago, he started MAN – the Men’s Action Network – with a group of local men.

“Historically, the majority of people who have been in this movement have been women,” Diehl said. “Men need to play a part in ending violence. It’s everyone’s issue.”

Approximately eight men meet monthly to talk about issues and plan events and presentations.

Red River Children’s Advocacy Center

Mission: The focus of the center is to facilitate a child-friendly response to children in situations or allegations of situations of maltreatment. It uses a multi-disciplinary teamwork approach to investigation, treatment and prosecution. The goal is to reduce child trauma by minimizing the number of times a child is interviewed about an alleged incident, and to gather and document forensic and medical information that can be used to support prosecution.

History: The Fargo center opened in 2004. A second location in Grand Forks opened in 2012. The RRCAC is a member of the North Dakota and Minnesota National Children’s Alliance Chapter.

Services: Law enforcement and social services work with teams of community professionals at the RRCAC to offer expertise in medical and mental health evaluations, victim and family advocacy, forensic interviews, case review and case tracking. The center provides referrals and recommendations for services that will benefit the child and support the family.

Education: The center hosts annual spring training for local professionals every May. Speakers from all disciplines present at the multi-day training. The goal of the training is to meet the needs of the families and communities in all the areas the center serves, said Carissa Cowley of Cass County Social Services.

What director Anna Frissell says: “Domestic violence is an important piece of what we do in that many of the children have witnessed violence and experienced it themselves. Domestic violence and sexual assault are partnered routinely as two areas of focus where you have similar referrals and therapies. We try to make sure as much as possible that children and families don’t fall through the gaps.”

Prairie St. John’s, founded in 1997

Mission: Offering hope and healing to those suffering from psychiatric conditions and addictions.

Learn more at www.prairie-stjohns.com.

Sacred Spirits, founded in 2001

Mission: Sacred Spirits’ mission is to reclaim the sacred spirits of women, men and their families for the next seven generations by healing the effects of historical trauma through culturally competent practice utilizing traditional Anishinaabe values and beliefs.

Learn more about Sacred Spirits by searching www.impactgiveback.org.