OASIS Presents Survivor Assistance Program at Kiwanis Club | Mountain timetable

BANNER ELK – Banner Elk Kiwanis held their monthly meeting on Tuesday, December 7 and gave a special presentation from OASIS, Inc. Opposing abuse with Service, Information and Shelter Inc., OASIS is working across the High Country to serve survivors of an intimate partner. violence and sexual assault. OASIS has served residents of Avery County since 2013 and set up an office in Newland in January 2019.

OASIS representatives at the meeting included Sara Crouch, Acting Co-Executive Director, and Rubi Estrada, Avery Services Coordinator. Crouch has been involved with OASIS for three years and Estrada has just started serving survivors with the group. The two representatives provided background information on the organization and also facilitated a chat-based conversation with Kiwanis members and guests.

All the services provided by OASIS are free and confidential, and the group has a 24/7 crisis line. OASIS operates a confidential emergency shelter for survivors and children, as well as supportive housing programs such as transitional and permanent supportive housing. An Emergency Solutions grant is being used to help OASIS use additional hotels and shelters in Watauga, Avery, Wilkes and Alleghany counties.

The comprehensive services provided by the organization include legal advocacy, information provision, referrals and support to the justice system. OASIS has recently worked with the courts to facilitate virtual access to protection orders and is one of the first organizations to provide this service. Medical assistance, support groups, case management, crisis intervention and community referrals are also added.

Financial assistance is provided when it supports survivors in their ability to lead independent lives free from violence. Services are complemented by community awareness, education and prevention programs.

According to Crouch, funding cuts have taken place at the federal level, actively reducing the effectiveness of the programs.

“We (OASIS) are resilient, like the survivors we serve. It has been difficult, but we have maintained our level of service which is a huge success, ”said Crouch.

The most recent annual report shows that 425 people were served by the agency, of which 89 were children. The emergency shelter has been full for three months and OASIS has served a full workload throughout the year.

“The dynamics of abusive relationships are rooted in power and control. Using children as pawns is indicative of abuse, ”said Crouch.

She also noted that there are multiple forms of abuse. “Economic abuse, such as limited access to money and isolation, where abusers trick partners into believing that they cannot trust their support system,” Crouch added.

Many cases show that it is difficult for abused people to seek help.

“People feel embarrassed and ashamed when they come to see us,” Crouch said. “They feel downcast. “

OASIS assesses the immediate safety of its customers and provides services instantly based on these assessments. Crouch notes that abused people are often “lost, confused and struggling to navigate the system.”

Regarding the programs the agency provides, Crouch reports that “we see it as a menu of services. After understanding a person’s situation, we will provide our services to help. The shelter is for people who are really looking to start fresh and gain stability.

A question from the audience was asked regarding the Spanish speaking population of Avery County.

“There are traditional barriers, because people know you and will talk about you. OASIS has Spanish volunteers and a 24-hour Spanish-speaking crisis line, ”said Estrada.

OASIS lost its Spanish services grant after a reduction in funds, but retained several fluent Spanish-speaking staff.

OASIS also collects donations for old and broken phones. Even very old cell phones can dial 911, and the agency has a partnership with a company that will repair them if they break down.

Community members can donate to OASIS on their website and can follow them on Twitter @Oasishighcountry.