Domestic violence shelter “open at the perfect time” during pandemic

It has been about a year and a half since Sturgeon County’s first emergency shelter opened.

The Jessica Martel Memorial Foundation (JMMF) Shelter opened in May 2020. The 9,200 square foot building was designed to house individuals or families of all ages and genders fleeing domestic violence.

“I don’t think it’s ideal to open anything during a pandemic. But I can say, I think we opened at the perfect time; we opened when the community really needed us. bumps that we encountered along the way, we have really been successful in supporting people fleeing domestic violence, ”said Executive Director Marla Welk.

It was predicted that there would be an increase in domestic violence cases, and the JMMF believes this was reflected in their numbers. Over the past six months, the shelter has served 69 adults and 68 children. Their crisis lines are also busy, with 783 calls received in recent months.

Jessie’s house was originally intended to operate at reduced capacity, but is now fully operational.

According to Welk, they are grateful and honored that the shelter has been able to help so many people.

“We are really grateful to have this support and the support of the community. I have been at Jesse’s House for a little while now, and it is an honor to work there.”

November is Family Violence Prevention Month in Alberta. The JMMF is undertaking the Light in the Window campaign to try to raise awareness.

The digital awareness campaign will continue throughout the month and will end with a request for people to leave a candle lit in their window on November 30.

“[It] simply shows a personal commitment to fostering healthy and respectful relationships, and a united stance that family violence is unacceptable, ”Welk said. campaigns like this. “

Alberta has the third highest rate of self-reported spousal violence among the Canadian provinces.

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