ST. PETERSBURG — Community Action Stops Abuse (CASA), an organization that provides support to victims of domestic violence, broke ground for a new shelter on June 3. The new facility will feature bedrooms, group rooms, kitchens and dining rooms and will be larger than the current shelter.
“It’s about building a safe place,” said Nicole Worthington, Director of Advancement at CASA. “Unfortunately for a lot of people in Pinellas County, home is the last place they consider safe.”
To give those in attendance an idea of the magnitude of the issue, Worthington stated that Pinellas law enforcement receives 8,000 calls a year related to domestic violence. She said the calls come from women, men and even children.
“Sometimes they come from really little children, and that should be shocking,” she said. “Regardless of who is making that call, domestic violence affects everybody.”
Worthington said that according to Forbes magazine, domestic violence costs the economy over $8 billion due to medical costs, lost wages and productivity. And it is the leading cause of injury to women ages 15-24. She presented slides with projected views of the rooms, kitchens and offices of the planned 40,000 square foot facility. There are naming opportunities for each room in exchange for donations.
The goal is to have the doors open by July 1, 2015 said Linda Osmundson, the executive director.
“Our contractors got together with us and said, ‘Yeah, it can be done,’” Osmundson said. “And if it can be done, we’re going to do it.”
Congresswoman Kathy Castor was also on hand, and stated that taking this step is a testament to the community.
“We abhor violence and we’re not going to stand for it!” she said to great applause. “We’re going to take care of our families and our children. Is there anything that’s more fundamental to growing up and having a healthy and happy life than having a safe and secure home?”
Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin expressed pride in CASA and the community of St. Pete for taking this step.
“At City Hall we spend a lot of time strategizing about how we can build a plan that makes this a city of opportunity,” Tomalin said. “And we start and end our conversations around those who are most vulnerable among us. We are so pleased and proud of the great work CASA is doing, and proud of our community for being so compassionate and truly defining the standards that we expect for everybody that calls this place home.”
Several members of CASA and city council happily broke the ground, scooping up shovelfuls of dirt to kick off the project they hope will provide a beacon of hope and refuge for all who may need it.
“This is going to be more than just a groundbreaking today,” Castor said, “this is going to be groundbreaking for families.”
Since the facility will be a safe house for those who are fleeing from domestic violence, the address cannot be given out. However, if you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, please call (727) 895-4912 or (800) 799-SAFE (7233). Visit casa-stpete.org for more information.