At last weeks Kenai Chamber of Commerce meeting, Kenai Vice Mayor Joe Moore read an official proclamation from Mayor Pat Porter declaring April as Sexual Assault Awareness month. In part the proclamation states that, "sexual assault can affect anyone, either as a victim survivor or as a family member, many citizens and agencies of Kenai are working to provide quality services and assistance to sexual assault survivors through staffing 24-hour crisis lines, responding to emergency calls and offering support, providing medical assistance to sexual assault victims, and criminal prosecution to perpetrators, it is critical to intensify public awareness of sexual assault, to educate people about the need for citizen involvement in efforts to reduce sexual violence, and to continue support for agencies providing services to victims of sexual assault."
Vice Mayor Moore presented a copy of the proclamation to David Thomas, president of the board of directors at the LeeShore Center and their Executive Director Cheri Smith. Soldotna City Mayor David Carey also officially proclaimed April as Sexual Assault Awareness month and recognized the efforts of the LeeShore Center are having in our communities.
Since 1985 The LeeShore Center formerly known as the Women's Resource and Crisis Center has been providing emergency shelter as well as working to increase awareness of sexual assault to reduce the occurrence of it in our community. According to Cheri Smith the Center recently held a 45 hour community awareness workshop on sexual assault and the dynamics of domestic violence. Additionally during the month of April the Center ran educational advertisements at the Kambe theatre and passed out educational book marks to movie goers. Smith says the educational programs are yielding results as indicated by a high participation percentage in their recent community survey.
"Many of the women that we work with both here at our emergency shelter and at our transitional living facility do go on to be very self sufficient and become advocates themselves, speaking out on the issue, explaining to people the importance of overall community support, because if we as a community are not supportive of the victims that we may come in contact with it's just one of those things that becomes more hidden," said Cheri Smith. There are 22 domestic violence and sexual assault programs in the state. Last year close to 700 sexual assault victims received services through these programs. Locally there is a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) that has responded already this year to 4 sexual assaults, according to Smith. The LeeShore Center has a 24 hour crisis line 283-7257, "people can call this line anytime for support or ask questions about the agency," added Smith
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