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ComLinks gets $20,000 grant to fight domestic violence

September 26, 2008
By NATHAN BROWN, Enterprise Staff Writer

SARANAC LAKE - ComLinks will receive $20,000 from a national charitable foundation to help victims of domestic violence in Franklin County.

The Mary Kay Ash Charitable foundation is giving out 150 grants totaling $3 million nationwide to shelters in all 50 states. According to a statement, ComLinks plans to spend its share of the money to "better serve the women and families that are affected by domestic violence" and for maintenance of the Hannah House shelter in Malone.

"This grant gives us much-needed cash and hope," ComLinks CEO Nancy Reich said. "The problem of domestic violence in Malone and throughout Franklin County isn't going away, and neither is the need for funding."

"Mary Kay Ash wanted her foundation to help enrich women's lives," said Jennifer Cook, who is on the board of the 12-year-old foundation. "We know ComLinks' Hannah House will use these funds to stop domestic violence, and provide help and hope to battered women and children in the Malone and Franklin County area."

The Malone-based community action agency has also hired Rhonda Banker as Domestic Violence Intervention Program supervisor for the southern end of Franklin County. The agency administers a shelter in Saranac Lake, the Judith G. House.

According to Paula McNerney, development coordinator for ComLinks, Banker's position was recently created as part of a reorganization of the program. In addition to the shelter, Banker will be in charge of administering a wide variety of non-residential programs, including "counseling for past and present clients and their children, legal advocacy, youth advocacy (and) school educational programs."

Fact Box

If you go ...

What: Take Back the Night rally

Where: North Country Community College, Saranac Lake

When: 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 8

According to the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, shelter donations are down, but the need for their services is increasing. McNerney said it is unfortunately not uncommon to see both a decrease in donations and an increase in domestic violence in bad economic times.

"People get frustrated and angry, and take it out on the ones who live closest to them," she said.

ComLinks assisted 622 adults and 623 children in its Domestic Violence Intervention Program in 2007. McNerney said the agency had 839 bed nights in Malone and 538 in Saranac Lake.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, there were 50,088 reported cases of domestic violence statewide in 2006; the crime affects one in four women nationally, costing society more than $5.8 billion annually; boys who witness such behavior as children are twice as likely to grow up into abusers themselves.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. ComLinks plans to host one event to raise awareness, will take part in another, and McNerney said the agency is planning more. On Oct. 2, ComLinks will host a rally at Arsenal Green in Malone from 5:30 to 6 p.m. State Assemblywoman Janet Duprey will be the guest speaker. The event is free and open to the public, the band Save the Humans will be performing, and the video and song "You're Not Better Than Me" by Ellen Bukset will be played.

ComLinks will also participate in Take Back The Night, an internationally held march and rally protesting violence against women. This will be at the North Country Community College Library in Saranac Lake at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 8, and is co-hosted by NCCC and Paul Smith's College.

The Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation was created in 1996, with the mission of funding research of cancers affecting women and helping to prevent and raise awareness of domestic violence. Since its foundation, it has awarded nearly $18 million to shelters and programs addressing domestic violence, and $10.8 million to cancer researchers and related causes.

Contact Nathan Brown at 891-2600 ext. 26 or



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