Grant to aid abuse victims in Lowndes County

Published 11:14 am Friday, February 24, 2017

Special to the Signal

Governor Robert Bentley has awarded a $16,948 grant to help ensure that sexual assault victims in eight Alabama counties, including Lowndes,to have access to professional care and services.

According to the Office of the Govenor, the grant announced Friday, Feb. 24 will help the Lighthouse Counseling Center in Montgomery assists victims in Montgomery, Autauga, Elmore, Lowndes, Perry, Wilcox, Butler and Crenshaw counties through its Standing Together Against Rape program. The program uses volunteer registered nurses who are specially trained to care for assault victims and collect evidence. They conduct exams in a private facility to spare victims the stress of visiting a hospital emergency room where privacy may be limited and wait times can be lengthy.

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“Victims should have access to compassionate and professional care,” Bentley said. “I commend the staff and volunteers of the Lighthouse Counseling Center and know they will continue to help those most in need.”

The grant funds will help the center continue the services of a sexual assault nurse examiner coordinator and program coordinator. The nurse coordinator is responsible for training sexual assault nurse examiners, training law enforcement officers about the sexual assault program and procedures. The coordinator also tracks about the victims and reports the statistical and demographic information about victims to relevant law enforcement. The program coordinator assists victims with their needs and acts as an advocate for victims in the community.

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs is administering the grant from funds made available to the state by the U.S. Department of Justice.

“ADECA’s partnership with Lighthouse Counseling Center and similar organizations across the state ensures that assistance is always available for those who have unfortunately become victims of abuse or assault,” ADECA Director Jim Byard Jr. said. “The recovery process is important, and our state has dedicated staff and volunteers in place to help victims take the first steps toward recovery.”

ADECA manages a wide array of programs that support law enforcement and traffic safety, energy conservation, water resource management, economic development and recreation.

Bentley notified John Roper, the center’s executive director, the grant has been approved.