First Lady Maria Culvert is encouraging Iowans to consider donating their time or money to benefit the state’s youth and domestic violence shelters. Saturday is designated as Shelter Awareness Day in Iowa and the First Lady is asking others to join her in volunteering for service projects and donating needed items.
Adam Stark is the Americorps Program Coordinator with the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence. He says people can volunteer to answer crisis lines, organize service projects to raise donations or possibly help with painting a room at their local shelter.
"It just depends on the capacity that the person wants to volunteer," Stark said. In some cases, volunteering at a shelter may require training to work with the victims of domestic violence. Stark says the state’s 28 domestic violence programs can also use donated goods.
"Mostly, they need food, clothing, personal care products…things that women coming into the shelter will need while they’re there," Stark said. Unfortunately, many of Iowa’s domestic abuse shelters are packed. Stark says the state’s 24-hour crisis hotline fields more than 20-thousand calls per year.
"When I worked at the shelter in Ames, we would shelter around 250 individuals a year," Stark said. "It depends on the size (of the shelter). In Des Moines, their capacity at one time is 60 beds. So, they can have 60 people. The shelter in Ames can hold between 20 and 24." More information about volunteer opportunities at Iowa shelters is available on-line at www.icadv.org .