February 13, 2008

Sistercare, Inc. : Historical information about Sistercare

Sistercare, Inc. : Historical information about Sistercare

In 1972, groups of concerned citizens in the Columbia area met to discuss ways to assist battered women. In May 1978, the Columbia Young Women’s Christian Association’s (YWCA) Board of Directors voted to support efforts to organize a formal program of services for abused women and their children in the Columbia vicinity.

Two years later, the Junior League of Columbia signed a contract with the YWCA to co-sponsor the project. These organizations established a steering committee with representatives from other related agencies and services in the community. Early efforts focused on increasing public awareness about the issue of partner abuse, obtaining information about the extent of the problem, and starting support groups for battered women.

In July 1981, Sistercare, Inc. was established as an independent agency with funding from the Junior League of Columbia, the South Carolina Department of Social Services, the United Way of the Midlands, and contributions from local churches, civic organizations, and individuals. Staff was hired, and on October 19, 1981, Sistercare, Inc. opened an emergency shelter in Richland County in a house rented from the Columbia Housing Authority. In June 1982, Sistercare officially became a United Way member agency.

In April 1982, a City of Columbia grant allowed the purchase of a permanent 24-bed shelter. Funds from the Midlands Home and Emergency Fund contributed to facility maintenance. In June 1994, Sistercare opened a critically-needed 20-bed second shelter in Lexington County to assist hundreds of domestic violence victims who, due to lack of space, were being turned away from its existing shelter in Richland County. In the Spring of 2004, Sistercare opened a third emergency shelter for battered women and their children. The third shelter can house up to 15 persons and is designed to accommodate battered women who have more than two children, as well as domestic violence survivors who may require an extended stay in shelter.

Sistercare, Inc. operates with financial support from the United Way of the Midlands, Kershaw County United Way, the South Carolina Department of Social Services, civic organizations, churches, county funds, and an annual board-sponsored fund-raiser, as well as federal, state, local, and foundation grants. Community donations of clothing, labor, and food assist Sistercare in providing services to battered women and their children.

Sistercare, Inc. is the only organization in South Carolina’s Midlands that provides shelter, services, and advocacy to battered women and their children. Services include a 24-hour crisis line, children’s counseling, community counseling services, individual counseling, follow up, legal advocacy, medical crisis intervention, and community education and training. Sistercare has served more than 27,000 victims of abuse during the past twenty-three years.

In 1998, Sistercare opened satellite offices and placed professional counseling staff in Fairfield County and Newberry County to give domestic violence victims greater access to critically needed services. A satellite office was opened in Kershaw County in the spring of 1999. During 2001, Sistercare established a formal follow up program for battered women leaving the shelters. In mid-2002, with the assistance of a three year grant, Sistercare established a housing and support services program for disabled domestic violence victims.

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