Editor’s Note: The Giving and Receiving series features people involved in humanitarian programs – as recipients or providers. The series runs occasionally now through December.
To break the silence about domestic violence, Williams-based nonprofit organization Karen’s House supporters are speaking out and helping those struggling in abusive situations.
“We want to keep everybody safe,” said Tootie Hackett, founder of Karen’s House. “Anything we can do to prevent another statistic.”
According to Hackett, the nonprofit organization advocates on behalf of victims of domestic violence and their children, by providing a safe space that promotes intervention, prevention, awareness and empowerment.
Hackett established Karen’s House – Colusa County’s first domestic violence program – in April 2018 after the disappearance and death of Williams native Karen Garcia – to offer resources and help to those stuck in abusive situations as Garcia was prior to her death.
Since being established, Karen’s House has partnered with Colusa County with the hope of expanding services and Hackett said they have been trying to obtain grant money to open a shelter in the near future.
“We have gotten one grant already, but it’s very expensive to open a shelter from scratch,” said Hackett.
According to Hackett, the organization is looking for a three bedroom, two bath house or land within the county they can use to get the shelter up and running.
Hackett said the organization, which has assisted 15 individuals and their families since opening, provides support and assistance to get victims away from their abusers by putting them up in hotels for three days, helping to locate and talk to family for help, as well as providing clothes, food and personal hygiene supplies, referrals to local services and help obtaining restraining orders. Hackett said she is also certified to provide counseling services to victims as well.
“I am the only person certified right now but as we grow we would like to get more people certified,” said Hackett.
Karen’s House, which is run solely by volunteers, hosts several fundraiser events throughout the year to continuously provide these services, including a rib cook-off at the Williams Pioneer Day event scheduled each year in June, an annual golf tournament, which Hackett said is scheduled for May 1, 2020, at the Arbuckle Golf Club, as well as several “paint nights.”
“These fundraisers are how we keep everything going,” said Hackett. “We pay our rent and the few bills we have and then put the rest away.”
Karen’s House will be hosting a human trafficking awareness event on Tuesday, Dec. 17, at the Granzella’s Banquet Hall, 457 Seventh Street in Williams, from 6-7 p.m.
According to Hackett, guest speaker Roger Freeman, outreach and training specialist for the International Rescue Committee, will lead an informative training outlining the warning signs and things to be aware of regarding human trafficking.
The event is free and open to the public.
“No registration is required,” said Hackett. “Just show up and learn. It could help save a life.”