Guardian Shelter helps families in time of need

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series of stories highlighting non-profit agencies that need help or donations during the holiday season.

NATCHEZ — Since 1992, the Guardian Shelter has been helping battered women and their families in need of emergency help.

And sadly, the Christmas season is when many families need help the most.

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The shelter’s director, Sue Ann Brown, said the fact that the holidays usher in an increase of domestic violence is tragic.

Guardian Shelter children’s program coordinator Kim Johnson talks about the daycare at the shelter. Click here for slideshow

“It’s so sad and so unnecessary,” she said.

And while the upswing of domestic of violence around the holiday season is saddening, it’s also nothing new.

Brown said the culmination of stress; gift buying and family functions just get to be too much for some people.

Drug and alcohol use at many holiday parties also contributes to domestic violence Brown said.

And while domestic violence can’t be stopped, when it does happen, Brown and her staff are ready to meet the abused with open arms.

“So many of these people don’t have any place to go,” she said. “If they did they would not end up here.”

Brown said when she first began working at the shelter over 10 years ago she had no idea so many women needed so much help.

“It’s actually very troubling,” she said.

One of the biggest misconceptions about domestic violence, Brown said, is that it only occurs in lower socioeconomic groups.

Brown said this could not be further from the truth.

“We have seen every type of woman come through our doors,” she said.

Over the last decade, Brown said, she has seen teachers, nurses, housewives and all manner of women come to the shelter.

But when they get to the shelter they all have one thing in common, they need help.

“When they get here they are in serious need of help,” she said.

Once at The Guardian Shelter, women and their families receive 30 days of emergency sheltering.

During that time all of the families needs are provided for.

Clothing, food, transportation and legal aid are given to the families at no charge to them.

But all that help and support does not come cheap Brown said.

Funded by Catholic Charities, the shelter is run only on donations and grants.

“If people are going to be in a giving mode for the holidays we need them give here,” she said.

Even with all the bad in life Brown sees she still says the work is rewarding.

“To see someone come in here and change their lives in 30 days is a miracle,” she said. “It’s also very rewarding.”