This Macon nonprofit helps ‘empower’ sexual assault and abuse survivors

Editor’s Note: This is an occasional series featuring conversations with leaders of area nonprofit organizations that provide a variety of services and support to many in the community.

The Crisis Line & Safe House of Georgia provides services in seven counties for victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault, as well as, their families including initial medical exams, legal advocacy and counseling.

The organization’s mission is “to empower victims of violence to begin healing and speak for them until they find their voices,” according to the website.

Dee Simms, executive director, has been with the organization since it started 14 years ago. The Telegraph spoke with her about what the organization does in the community.

Q: How would you describe what your organization does?

We are a dual-service agency that provides service to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. We have five separate services. First, we have the shelter program that can house domestic violence victims and their families. We also have an outreach office where we have legal services available with legal advocates that help victims access the court system and get temporary protective orders. We have a counseling center with two counselors in-house who work with victims. We have two sexual assault centers, one in Houston County and one in Bibb County, where we provide the forensic examinations and the follow-up advocacy.

Q: How long has the organization been serving the community and how many people work and volunteer there?

Crisis Line of Middle Georgia was incorporated in 1978. In the mid-90’s, a team responding to the need for adequate bed space for domestic violence victims, formed a shelter in Macon. The Salvation Army was running a domestic violence shelter in Warner Robins and they took Macon’s facility under their wing and led that operation from 2000 to 2005. In 2005, the boards merged, and we became the Crisis Line and Safe House of Central Georgia at that time.

We have 20 full-time employees and 12 part-time employees, including a response team that is available 24 hours a day.

Q: What is the newest or most unique program or service that you provide?

Our counseling center and our full-service sexual assault center opened in the same year. I think our counseling clients would tell you that it has been just incredible for them to have that resource. We’ve been able to provide that service to our clients, some of (whom) don’t have insurance and wouldn’t have any way to access that sort of thing.

Q: Do you have an annual event or special community activity that readers should know about?

In October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we kick it off with an event called Appetites for Advocacy on Oct. 1, where we have partnered with Cheddar’s Casual Cafe. We have 12 local celebrities that are paired up with waiters at Cheddar’s. They compete to be the top server through raising money and talking to patrons about the work we do at Crisis Line.

Q: Is there anything else that would like the community to know about your organization?

Everything that we do is done free of charge to victims. It’s not cheap to run the program, so any support people want to give us, we very much appreciate that. Any time the community can step in and support us, it’s much appreciated.

To reach the Crisis Line & Safe House of Georgia hotline call478-745-9492.