Sexual Assault Resource Center of Brazos Valley needs community support after cuts to funding
““I do not want to cut services to any survivor.”
BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - The organization fighting sexual violence in the Brazos Valley will be forced to cut back their services for survivors of sexual assault unless private donors offset significant cuts in federal and state funding. Lindsey LeBlanc, Executive Director of the Sexual Assault Resource Center (SARC), said the agency was recently notified of cuts totaling over $260,000 for the year beginning Sept. 1.
The biggest source of funding loss for SARC is connected to a grant associated with the federal Victims of Crime Act, or VOCA. SARC is also dealing with cutbacks in grants funded by the federal Violence Against Women’s Act (VAWA) and the Other Victims Assistance Grants (OVAG) program, which is run by the state’s Attorney General’s Office. VOCA and VAWA grants in Texas are administered by the governor’s Public Safety Office. All three grants have become increasingly competitive as agencies compete for funds during the COVID-19 pandemic
This loss of $260,000 in funding amounts to more than 35 percent of SARC’s total annual budget. LeBlanc said the agency’s biggest, but also most important expense, is the salaries of five counselors who assist hundreds of sexual assault survivors with thousands of counseling sessions every year. She fears that if they cannot gather enough community support, these counseling sessions will be the first thing to go.
“I do not want to cut services to any survivor, especially counseling.” said LeBlanc. “Counseling is a proven, evidence-based way to heal from trauma and to be able to move forward.”
In addition to those counseling services, SARC also helps survivors pay unforeseen expenses and obtain free legal help with protection orders. The agency’s 24/7 crisis hotline — 979-731-1000 — receives more than 1,500 calls a year. The nonprofit also strives to reduce sexual violence through education and prevention outreach programs.
LeBlanc said the agency is currently seeing “more counseling clients than ever in the history of our organization,” and she said they “expect the needs of survivors will continue to rise this fall as students return to the area and the world resumes more in-person activities.” She emphasized that SARC will continue to serve as many survivors as they can, but that they need the community’s help to do so.
Good news for anyone wanting to help out, SARC is launching a new fundraising campaign. They’re calling it, “Be a Light.” Community members can make a donation on the SARC website by pressing the “Donate” button near the top right corner. You will then be redirected to the campaign page where you can make your donation in any amount you’d like.
Donors can also mail contributions to the Sexual Assault Resource Center, P.O. Box 3082, Bryan, TX 77805.
Another way to help is by contributing and attending the annual “Evening Under the Stars” gala, happening on Friday, October 8th. You can learn more about the event on the SARC website. When you’re ready to buy your tickets for the gala, you can click “purchase tickets” and you’ll be redirected to SARC’s Eventbrite page. The price of each ticket is based on how much you are willing to donate to SARC.
If you or someone you love have been the victim of sexual assault, you can call SARC’s 24/7 hotline at 979-731-1000.
Watch the video below for the rest of this interview with SARC Executive Director, Lindsey LeBlanc:
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