A new month is marking new beginnings for a community organization hoping to expand their help to thousands in the Eastern Panhandle.
October 1 was the perfect day for change.
“Launching the new name of an organization that was founded to serve victims of domestic violence on Domestic Violence Awareness Month… just seems appropriate,” said Katie Spriggs, executive director of the newly named Eastern Panhandle Empowerment Center (EPEC).
“ We renamed the Shenandoah Women’s Center after 41 years of that name,” explained Jason Barrett, EPEC Board President.
“Primarily because it better represents what the agency is about. It’s really about empowering victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking,” Barrett continued.
At EPEC, they are facing a job of epic proportions. In 2017, they had more than 1400 victims, 121 of them were male, 122 needed shelter and 110 of them had to be turned away.
“We’re not the only ones feeling the strain of not having enough shelter space,” said Spriggs.
This can leave many in need in a tough and potentially deadly position.
This is where the capital campaign comes in that was also launched on Monday. They’re looking to raise enough money to move into a new building that can house at least 30 people, and put their office building and shelter in the same location.
“Whatever it takes to get a shelter that is big enough for our needs,” said Spriggs.
The name change is also to signify that all are welcome at the center.
“We’re always trying to say that we serve all genders and for Transgender survivors too it’s especially difficult. So we’re also trying to just become a little more inclusive in the slightest way by just changing our name,” explained Spriggs.