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Kiwanis helps out Glenn County domestic violence shelter
The holidays can be a difficult time for families with a history of abuse and violence.
Weeks before Christmas, officials at the new Westside Domestic Violence Shelter in Orland wondered how the five mothers and 11 children temporarily housed there would fare.
Glenn County's first shelter for battered women has only been open 11 months, and it was the first Christmas families broken apart by abuse would spend at the secluded residence.
"Holidays are hard for domestic violence families," said Alicia Baughman, house manager. "For women and children, Christmas can be a scary time. Many have bad memories of Christmases past."
The house was financed with a 10-year loan from the California Department of Housing and Community Development, which will be forgiven at the end of the term if the property remains in use as a shelter, county officials said.
The Glenn County Board of Supervisors approved the purchase in June 2010.
The week before Christmas, Baughman said she received two requests for shelter and one emergency placement by law enforcement.
The four-bedroom, 3.5 bath house contains 14 beds and has a capacity for 28 residents.
But the holidays were actually joyful for Westside families, thanks to a pledge made by a Willows service organization.
The Willows Kiwanis Club adopted Westside as its Major Project for 2012-13 in September, said President Ann Lambert.
It's first focus was to provide for Christmas, she said.
The club provided decorations for the house, presents for all the children and a prime rib dinner with all the fixings, including Yorkshire pudding, which the mothers prepared.
"It was amazing," said Lambert, at Wednesday's Kiwanis meeting at Black Bear Diner in Willows.
Baughman, a guest at the meeting, said the shelter was not only decorated beautifully for Christmas, but stockings were hung with care and the children were dressed beautifully for Santa Claus' visit.
"It looked just like it was out of the movies," she said.
The Kiwanis pledge, however, doesn't end with the holidays.
Lambert said the Willows club plans to continue assisting the shelter, and may also be the Major Project for 2013-2014, when Donald Byrd takes the reins again as president.
The club donated $500, which will go to replace a broken dryer, and the club plans to work on the house and improve the garden by building raised flower beds, Lambert said.
According to the US Senate Committee on the Judiciary, domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the US, more than car accidents, muggings and rapes combined.
If the last holiday is any indication, the need for Glenn County's only domestic violence shelter will continue, officials said.
Glenn County Sheriff Larry Jones said Wednesday the first two arrests in Glenn County on Jan. 1 were for felony domestic violence.
One of the victims was transported to a Red Bluff hospital with a possible head injury, Jones said, and alcohol was heavily involved in at least that case.
"I hope this is not an indicator of how 2013 will be," Jones said.
CONTACT Susan Meeker at 934-6800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.