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Shelter’s resources run low

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Columbus’ Turning Point Domestic Violence Services needs help to purchase food for 17 children, an unusually large number being housed with their families at the agency’s facility.

“Our shelter has been overfull for the majority of the summer, and, unfortunately, the trend continues,” Turning Point President Lisa Shafran said.

“We have had a tremendous number of children in the shelter, and our resources for food have really been taxed as a result,” she added.

Turning Point operates a 25-bed shelter for domestic violence victims. It receives 13 percent of its current, $1.6 million budget from United Way of Bartholomew County. The 17 children at the shelter range in age from infants to teens.

The shelter has been buying food with operational funds that normally would go to other costs, Shafran said. Trims or adjustments in the shelter’s other budget categories will be made later, she said.

Turning Point, helping families for nearly 40 years, served 899 families last year in Bartholomew, Brown, Decatur, Jackson, Jefferson, Jennings, Johnson and Shelby counties. That included 4,757 nights of shelter.

Besides the shelter, free services include a crisis phone line, legal help and education about healthy relationships, plus other offerings.

Even the smallest financial donations make a big difference, Shafran said.

By year’s end, Shafran expects the shelter’s food expense to be double 2013’s cost, exceeding last year’s total by as much as $1,500. So far this year, the agency is 22 percent over its food budget.

One other factor influences the food cost beyond increased numbers of children at the shelter.

The healthier food options include providing more fresh fruit and vegetables to shelter residents.

“Shelter staff have made a conscious effort to provide healthier food options to adults and children, which has also challenged our resources,” Shafran said. “But we feel very strongly about providing these options.”

Because she and her staff suspect the need at the shelter may not abate soon, they have been investigating alternative funding sources. That includes everything from partnerships to state and federal grants, Shafran said.

In the meantime, she said she is grateful for a range of help with food, including donations from local restaurants.

Columbus’ Moose Lodge No. 398, a fraternal and charitable organization, has donated four to eight cooked pizzas to the shelter twice per month for at least the past decade, and also gives extra food from its pitch-ins to the shelter.

Lodge Governor David Hodapp said most members are familiar with Turning Point’s work.

“You can’t find a better cause than them,” he said.

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