MARION, Ill. (KFVS) - A matching fund campaign will double the value of every donation made by a Williamson County resident or business to The Women’s Center.
Any donation made before June 30 will receive the a match of up to $25,000. After that, Williamson county business owners have pledged to match that $25,000, bringing the campaign total to $50,000.
“While we all find ourselves in this temporary positive of crisis, we must not ever forget that there are those far more vulnerable than us,” said Marion Mayor Mike Absher at Thursday’s news conference. “I ask that you join me and the others here today to support this work to benefit The Women’s Center. For each person experiencing domestic violence, please remember that is their most desperate moment of need, care, support and justice.”
According to Williamson County State’s Attorney Brandon Zanotti, domestic violence filings have doubled in the county during the eight weeks of the stay-at-home order, compared with the same time period in 2019.
The Women’s Center served 297 Williamson County domestic violence clients in 2019, according to Zanotti, more than the number in Jackson and Franklin Counties combined.
The Rape Crisis Services branch of The Women’s Center also helped 69 Williamson County assault survivors the past year.
Both the Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis services are offered at a Marion, Ill. office at 1111 Anker Drive and in an office in the Williamson County courthouse.
The Women’s Center recently began a $300,000 Capital Improvement Campaign and the first two purchases, totaling more than $40,000, were made from Barcom Security and Watermark Ford.
Installing a new roof, replacing 14 HVAC units and floor coverings are next on the list, following by finishing an additional 1,400 square feet of space to provide adequate, safe and separate shelter for male victims of domestic and sexual violence.
Williamson County businesses, organizations and individual donors that pledged matching funds include: Marion Toyota, The Diederich Group of Companies, First Southern Bank, Walt’s Pizza, The Watermark Auto Group Foundation, Peoples National Bank, Legence Bank, Heartland Rotary of Williamson County, Farmers State Bank, Elaine and David Melby, State Representative Dave Severin, Kemper CPA Group and several others who wished to remain anonymous.
“I’ve spent six years - three on the board and three in my current position - trying to dispel the myth that we are the ‘Carbondale Women’s Center.’ We are not; we work with survivors in seven other counties with Williamson providing our largest case load,” said John Pfeifer, Women’s Center development specialist.
He said the shelter, located in central Carbondale, allows those in other counties the safety of being farther from their abuser while still having the ability to get kids to school, keep doctor’s appointments and more easily re-enter their lives when it’s safe to do so.