Crisis center expands hours by one day

United Way grant to pay for training, too

By Thaddeus Miller / tmiller@losbanosenterprise.comOctober 20, 2012 

Valley Crisis Center is now open a third day per week thanks to a $4,500 assist from United Way Merced County.

The advocates for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault can be found in the Police Annex, 545 J St., on Mondays and Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Legal advocate Reina Nino said the Los Banos office needed to be open another day -- Mondays -- to meet demand.

"Sometimes we need to turn people away, because we don't have enough hours in a day," Nino said.

The goal is to be open five days a week in Los Banos, Nino said.

According to Cmdr. Ray Reyna Jr., Los Banos police spokesman, police responded to 91 reports of criminal domestic violence offenses since January. He said police also responded to 358 non-criminal reports and 40 calls of service related to domestic violence court order violations. He said these incidents span from simple family disputes to serious reports of domestic violence.

The United Way grant will also pay for 80-hour training on domestic violence and sexual assault, as the center looks to bring on volunteers for the office, crisis line and special events.

Nino said ideally she would have volunteers in Dos Palos and Gustine as well as Los Banos.

"It's difficult for a volunteer in Atwater to respond to Dos Palos," she said, adding fog and rain can be an additional obstacle.

People interested in becoming a volunteer can contact Nino at (209) 725-7900 or by email at reina@ mcs4you.org.

Valley Crisis applied for $20,000 to realize the five-days-a-week goal, Nino said.

Fred Buckingham, chairman of allocation, said United Way Merced County funds a number of organizations. A funding committee and volunteers decide where the cash will be best used, he said.

"I've always felt they've done a superb job at what they do," Buckingham said. "It's just too bad we don't have enough money to support everybody."

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, and Thursday was the Peace for Families march in Los Banos.

Valley Crisis offers a 24-hour crisis hotline at (209) 722-4357.

Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or by email at tmiller@losbanos

enterprise.com.

Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or by email at tmiller@losbanos enterprise.com.

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