NORTHWEST GEORGIA FAMILY CRISIS CENTER
In 1978 the League of Women Voters and the Dalton Junior Women’s Club became concerned about abuse in the community and joined together to conduct a survey to determine the need for a shelter. From that effort a steering committee made up of individuals from different groups launched an effort to develop a shelter for abused adults and children. Virtually every civic, family-child organization and social services agencies in Dalton became involved. The purpose of the Northwest Georgia Family Crisis Center was established to provide temporary shelter, care and referral assistance to abused persons. In January 1979 a Board of Directors was named and the board was incorporated.
The first facility was donated by the First Baptist Church. The Board of Directors through donations purchased the site for the shelter. Volunteers donated time, services, materials and money to move and renovate the facility which was ready for operation early in 1980.
The initial organizational cost and set up was supported solely by individual contributions solicited by board members. In 1980 the Center was approved to receive an annual allocation for operations from the City of Dalton and Whitfield County. Also, in 1980 the Center was accepted as a United Way agency and began receiving funds in 1981. The agency received $5,000 the first year. The agency’s first annual budget was $15,000.
In 1981 the Center was licensed by the Department of Human Resources as an emergency shelter for children enabling the Center to care for children not accompanied by a parent or guardian.
In December 1982 the agency using volunteer labor, materials and money erected an efficiency apartment attached to the existing building enabling residential staff.
Betty Higgins was hired in July 1980 as the first Director of the agency. In October 1982 the agency hired a part time Assistant Director for a total of 1.5 employees. In addition, the agency has a core of approximately 30 volunteers who assisted with all levels of operations. Volunteers assisted with clerical duties, shelter supervision, housekeeping duties, the agency’s hotline and other tasks.
The agency was certified as a family violence shelter with a capacity of 12 in 1988 when such certification became a requirement in order to receive state funding.
The growing demand for services and shelter led the agency to purchase and renovate a second building to be used for extended shelter in 1990. This facility made it possible to provide shelter for up to three months and had a certified capacity of 12 individuals. With the addition of the second facility the total shelter capacity was increased to 24.
In 1995 the board of directors launched an effort to expand the children’s shelter and find a new home that would accommodate all services of the agency as well as the administration. In 1997 the agency moved into a new facility built to house the emergency shelter for children, the emergency domestic violence shelter, the extended shelter for victims of domestic violence and the administrative office. The new facility enabled the agency to expand the children’s emergency shelter to a capacity of 12. The extended shelter and the emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence maintained the certification of 12 each. This brought the total capacity of the agency up to 36.
The agency is constantly faced with the challenge of providing services to growing numbers of individuals. In 2001 the agency accepted the responsibility of providing domestic violence services to residents in Gordon County after the shelter serving this county closed. The agency currently operates an Outreach Office in Gordon County with two full time advocates and one part time advocate. A full time Legal Advocate works out of the Conasauga Circuit District Attorney’s Domestic Violence Unit. There are also three part time advocates that work with shelter and outreach clients in Whitfield and Murray Counties. In addition, follow-up services are provided to clients when they move into new living situations. Finally, in August 2004 the local Family Violence Intervention Program (RESOLV) was accepted into the agency’s array of services.
In 2008 the agency closed the Group Home due to the lack of need. Plans are underway to use the available space for Transitional Apartments when funding is secured.
On March 31, 2009 Betty Higgins retired from the agency after 29 years of dedication. The agency has named Katora Printup as the new director of the agency. In October of 2009, the transitional program which features three transitional apartments was reinitiated. In September of 2011, the agency opened Snazzy Seconds Thrift Store in Murray County where all proceeds benefit the Crisis Center.
From its inception in 1979 until today the Northwest Georgia Family Crisis Center continues to be a haven for battered and abused women and children due to generous and caring people in this community.