The dishwasher and washing machines at the Tri-City domestic violence shelter are constantly running.
The dozens of loads of laundry and stacks of dishes remind shelter manager Sami Hammond that domestic violence is alive in the Tri-Cities.
Hammond knows all too well that when survivors break free from their abusive relationships many are left with nothing but the clothes on their backs.
The shelter — one of Domestic Violence Services of Benton & Franklin Counties’ numerous free programs — provides survivors and their families with the essentials as they transition into a new life. There are eight women and 17 children at the shelter.
Community donations are a key component of helping women and men get out of abusive relationships.
“The truth is (domestic violence) is happening, and it’s happening here in our community,” Hammond said. “There are more people standing up and not tolerating it.”
The nonprofit offers services to about 1,000 people in Benton and Franklin counties, officials said. Services include the 24-hour shelter, a 24-hour crisis phone line, outreach programs, counseling, and legal and housing support.
There are also several support groups offered, including one focused on art therapy and another for teenage girls.
The organization, which employs 21 people, has multiple funding sources that help keep its doors open. Federal and county dollars make up a portion of the budget and fundraising also plays a large part.
The crisis line is locally staffed and fields about 600 to 800 calls a month, officials said. Many times people call looking for resources in the community or to talk about specific domestic violence-related issues.
“It’s a big part of our organization,” said Executive Director Daniel Aspiri.
With so many services and a large clientele, the organization relies heavily on community donations to ensure survivors have everything they need to leave abusive relationships.
The shelter is in dire need of full-sized shampoo and conditioner bottles and liquid dish detergent. Diaper wipes are also in high demand, as well as other personal care items.
There is always a need for toilet paper, paper towels, bath and hand towels, new underwear and socks, twin comforters and sheets, and Ziploc bags, officials said. Kitchen supplies are also appreciated.
Donate clothes to New Beginnings Thrift Store, 1016 Lee Blvd., Richland.
“We are always in need of stuff,” Hammond said. “Just think about all the wear and tear at (the shelter).”
The art therapy support group is also in need of arts and crafts materials for projects, officials said. The arts and crafts supplies are used for children’s projects as well.
Another great way to support domestic violence survivors is to create a basket with stuff for a first-time homeowner, officials said. Donating gift cards and gas cards is also a great way to support organization.
Some high-profile crimes in the Tri-City area in recent years have highlighted the importance of the services offered by Domestic Violence Services.
There have been at least seven domestic violence-related homicides since 2013, including one last month when Thomas R. Christian, 45, was stabbed to death at a Kennewick plasma donation center. The suspect is the estranged husband of Christian’s girlfriend.
Officials said the recent crimes have gotten the community to talk about domestic violence, which isn’t always easy.
“It’s not hard to throw up your hands and say, ‘We don’t want gangs in the community,’” Hammond said. “But when we talk about domestic violence, no one wants to shout from the rooftop and say, ‘We don’t want that anymore.’”
Donations can be taken to the administrative office at 3311 W. Clearwater Ave., Suite C-140. To view a full Wish List for the organization, visit www.dvsbf.org/donate.