In its second year, New Dawn Family Resource Center plans to expand its services for domestic abuse victims.
The center, in a discreet location in Lewisboro, brings together a consortium of services funded by North Salem, Somers, Pound Ridge, Bedford and Lewisboro and grants from the county and state. The consortium partners with the Westchester County Office for Women, which was awarded $200,000 from the New York State Risk Reduction Enhanced Response program.
Last year, the five towns each pledged $10,000 over two years to provide a space in northern Westchester that could protect those looking to escape a domestic-abuse situation.
At a North Salem Town Board meeting in August, former Pound Ridge Supervisor Dick Lyman, who sits on the board of directors for New Dawn, along with Patty Reyes D’Agostino and Lynn Hillenbrand Borsellino, co-presidents of North East Westchester Domestic Abuse Alliance, provided updates on the center’s progress.
“What very few people understand, and what was brought to our attention, is that in order for someone to get an order of protection, you have to go to White Plains,” Borsellino said. “If you need counseling services, we’re talking about, at the closest, White Plains, but most likely Hawthorne. That takes a lot of time, especially coming from the northeast corner of Westchester.
“It’s very much a challenge to get down there and if you’re a victim of abuse and the abuser has taken away access to a car, you’re stuck,” Borsellino continued.
The center currently provides, and is looking to expand upon, services for victims of domestic violence, office space for program workers and training for law enforcement to identify high-risk cases of intimate partner abuse.
The goal is to provide one-stop security for anyone fleeing the threat of domestic violence.
A review of records showed 180 reports of domestic violence in North Salem over a six-year period and 549 incidents of domestic violence in Somers since 2008, according to New Dawn.
The $10,000 from the five towns helps pay the rent and utilities for the Lewisboro space, and helped New Dawn in receiving the $200,000 risk-reduction program grant.
The center is currently providing support to 10 clients and has space for more. It’s also outfitted with furniture and computers and safety measures like electronic locks and cameras.
Going forward, the center is looking to connect with other agencies that already provide services for domestic-abuse victims and bring them into the Lewisboro location.
“Our goal is to have one-on-one counseling and support groups going on in the center every day,” Borsellino said.
New Dawn is also planning to bring in the organization One Love to all of the schools in the towns that fund the center and partner with Westchester Community College to get transitional training for abuse victims to help them get back into the work force.
One Love was founded in honor of Yeardley Love, a college student who was beaten to death by her ex-boyfriend three weeks before graduation from University of Virginia. The organization has a program to teach teens about warning signs in relationships.
“Our contacts have been in different realms,” D’Agostino said. “For domestic-abuse victims, for teens to get to them before they get into a situation and making them aware of what a healthy relationship is, in mental health, and … what happens afterwards because people after need to restart their lives.
“That’s our goal,” D’Agostino continued. “We’re trying to make your tax dollars work and the space is there and we know the victims exist.”
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) recently announced a $450,000 investment through the Department of Justice, some of which will go to New Dawn, Lyman said. The money will also allow other organizations to send service providers to New Dawn.
“I’ve got two daughters and I worry about them every day when they go out into the world. We need to make our country safer for everyone, but especially women, who are too often the targets of violence,” Maloney said. “I’ve always supported the
Violence Against Women Act, and we’re going to see its positive impact right here in the community as the result of the funding it’s made available.”