Home Builders Foundation focuses next efforts on helping domestic violence survivors
By Jon Bell
For the HBF
State Rep. Ann Lininger (D-Lake Oswego) remembers her time on the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners as one marked by plenty of conflict. Citizens would show up to weekly meetings in droves to gripe about land use issues, light rail — you name it.
But during one meeting, a group of Spanish-speaking women came in and testified before the commission through a translator. They were urging the commission to provide more support for survivors of domestic violence.
After each woman’s testimony, the entire room would erupt in applause.
“This is something that brought people together,” said Lininger, who serves on the board of Clackamas Women’s Services, the county’s primary provider of services for survivors of domestic abuse. “Everybody cares about fragile families. It’s such a unifying issue.”
Rallying behind that very issue, the Home Builders Foundation has begun working with CWS for one of its next major endeavors, an expansion of CWS’s emergency shelter for victims and families fleeing domestic violence.
“Shelters like these are incredibly important,” said Ken Cowdery, executive director of the HBF. “They have robust services and programs that can help survivors and their families get adjusted to new surroundings and transition back into a better place.”
Incorporated in 1985 as Clackamas County’s only shelter for women and children escaping domestic abuse, CWS provides a range of services, from counseling and support groups to a 24-hour crisis line and emergency shelter. The shelter is located in an old farmhouse, and while bed capacity has been doubled over the past eight years to 33, the space has fast become too crowded for all the services that CWS offers there.
Melissa Erlbaum, executive director of CWS, said ideally the renovation project will create additional space for counseling, a larger and more private space for group meetings and bigger spaces for kids and teenagers.
“It takes a lot of courage for someone to leave a violent home, leave all their belongings and someone they once cared for,” she said. “We want to honor that courage with not just a safe place to sleep, but with a community that welcomes them. And for the kiddos, we want to do as much as we can to help give them a place to be kids again and experience joy.”
HBF got connected to CWS almost by chance when the Home Builders Association hired Rachel Trice last summer as its vice president of membership. Trice had been marketing manager at Clackamas Town Center, which had been donating $7,000 to $9,000 annually to CWS from the change thrown into its fountains. When Trice joined the HBA, she recommended CWS to the foundation.
The shelter project will be tied to this year’s NW Natural Street of Dreams in Happy Valley, as proceeds raised during the annual block party will be donated to CWS. In addition, attendees will be asked to up their admission price by $1, also to benefit CWS.