Fremont County Alliance Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Executive Director Sydney Allred proudly calculated the total, “1,562… so far.” The number of people their nonprofit agency has helped.
The group assists victims of family or sexual violence with a safe place to stay, sometimes just for the victims themselves, sometimes for victims and children. Locations for those in need are available in Riverton, Lander, Dubois, and Arapaho.
Additionally, Fremont County Alliance operates a 24/7 hotline that those in need can reach out to. FCA offers services and help to victims such as financial literacy, transportation, budgeting, education and career training, legal advice, help with bills, and when necessary, coordinating with substance abuse recovery options.
Hundreds of places like this exist across the country. In fact, over 1,200 similar domestic violence shelters nationwide applied for a grant this year from the Mary Kay Foundation. One of the few that were selected for a $20,000 grant was the Fremont County Alliance.
On Thursday afternoon staff members, volunteers, and representatives from the Mary Kay Foundation gathered in front of the Riverton shelter for the “giant check photo-op.” Sydney Allred joked about having received such a large check in the mail, both monetarily and in size.
Allred says there are several ways they hope to use the money including building repairs. She said the Riverton building’s siding is in rough shape and some interior work needed to be completed.
She believes that Fremont County, Wyoming was chosen because there is a dramatic need for help here. “Per capita, we have a higher crime rate than the average place,” Allred said. “Public intoxication, shoplifting, domestic violence, all higher here. Plus, we’re spread out. It’s a very large county geographically.”
Allred said that the number of people Fremont County’s shelters assist with is comparable to Wyoming’s most populated communities, Cheyenne and Casper. “Cheyenne’s facility has 63 beds, we have 11” she said. “In Fremont County, we have a very high need for services and very limited resources.”
Domestic violence statistics locally and nationwide are staggering. Data suggests that 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. Allred said that it takes, on average, 7 to 9 times for a victim of domestic abuse to leave their abuser or seek help.
Locally, the majority of abuse victims are 25-55-year-old women. The Fremont County Alliance reports that about 70% of their clients are Native American.
Sydney is not only spending her time at the shelter and on the hotline, she also speaks regularly at most Fremont County high schools and several middle schools. She strongly believes that warning and educating children, that domestic violence is not okay, will reduce the number of issues in the future. “Children who develop abusive patterns learn it between the ages of 12 and 18 typically, those are the kids we need to reach. If we don’t help our youth make changes right now, domestic violence and sexual assault issues get worse.”
The Fremont County Alliance has four employees and several volunteers. For those wishing to help, volunteering is the most productive way. A one-week training course is issued for volunteers who would like to help on the hotline. Additionally, the shelter accepts donations. Right now, for example, the shelter is looking for mattresses and other various household items.