Domestic violence topic of guest speaker
Jan Manolis, director of the Jan Manolis Family Safe Center, and Cindy Wilk, the assistant director, were guests at the Beadle County Democats meeting Monday. Manolis spoke about her 30 years of experience working with the Jan Manolis Family Safe Center.
In 1983 the YWCA in Huron held a salad luncheon and the guest speaker was a woman from Brookings who spoke about domestic violence. Because of the shame and isolation associated with abuse in the home, it was an invisible problem in Huron, but it was still a problem. Manolis said at the time, the closest help was in Duluth, Minn.
“That was when we decided we needed to start a program in Huron,” she said. So in 1984 they opened their first shelter under the umbrella of the YWCA. The shelter branched out on its own in 2009 and the Jan Manolis Family Safe Center currently operates a shelter that can sleep 13 and has a separate house for the Center’s offices and meetings.
In 1984, the average length of stay in the shelter was two weeks.
“That was enough time to get the woman and children some clothes, food, and a bus ticket to her family or a friend.,” said Manolis. “But today the average stay is two months as we help her navigate the legal system and connect her with resources such as counseling, housing and job search skills.”
Most victims come to the shelter seven to nine times before they leave their abuser permanently.
“There is a lot of domestic abuse in the Huron area and it’s not just women. Men are victims, too,” Manolis said.
And of course, the children, who suffer directly from an abuser, or indirectly from living in that situation.
Manolis said they would like to get a presentation about abuse into the schools to teach children the facts, debunk the myths, and give them the tools to protect themselves.
She explained that abuse happens in every ethnic and racial group, within all economic classes, and in all parts of town. The Center works with police and sheriff departments, landlords and neighbors to reach victims. An advocate is called out in a domestic violence case 95% of the time.
In 2022, the shelter housed 24 women and 20 children for a total of 4,980 days. As well as providing shelter and food, the Center offers a free parenting class, Common Sense Parenting, counselling, housing, legal and medical assistance, and transportation.
To help pay for these resources, the Jan Manolis Family Safe Center holds four main fundraisings events each year. First is a concert featuring the Dweebs, a family-friendly musical experience. In the fall they host an event called Just Desserts, where they auction very elaborate baked goods. Just after Thanksgiving they sell Prime Time gift cards. She said these go fast, often selling out within days. And the last major fundraising effort is the pancake breakfasts at the Elks.
The Jan Manolis Family Safe Center may be reached at 605-350-66630 or 605-350-6690.