• Brittney Bennett

Health and Human Services donates $15k to domestic violence victims

UKB Health and Human Services Director Jennifer Cole-Robinson, left, met with Help In Crisis Inc.’s Executive Director Laura Kuester to personally deliver a $2,500 donation to the Tahlequah shelter. COURTESY

TAHLEQUAH – In the month of October the Health and Human Services department at the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians donated $15,000 towards six area domestic violence shelters to help victims of domestic and family violence get back on their feet.

“I am very proud to be able to that,” said Jennifer Cole-Robinson, the department’s director. “I know the needs that each of these agencies are struggling to meet and they are constantly getting cut in funding from the federal government and the states. They rely a lot on community donations, so for the United Keetoowah Band and me to be able to donate is something I’ve always wanted to do.”

A donation of $2,500 each was sent to the Family Crisis and Counseling Center in Bartlesville, Safenet Services Inc. in Claremore, Community Crisis Center in Vinita, Women in Safe Homes in Muskogee, Help in Crisis Inc. in Tahlequah and Domestic Violence Intervention Services in Tulsa.

The donations were made possible with monies from the department’s Family Violence Prevention and Services Grant.

“The FVPS funding allows us to help victims of domestic violence and family violence escape and find a safe home to start over,” said Cole-Robinson. “Each of the agencies we donated to are nonprofit and they’re continuing to struggle with meeting the families’ needs when they come into a shelter. These donations will be able to assist the agencies in purchasing basic necessities.”

Items that the funds will be used to purchase include shampoo, body wash, towels, blankets, toiletries, formulas, bottles, diapers and milk.

“It’s these types of things that when victims are entering shelters, they sometimes come in with nothing,” said Cole-Robinson. “Those donations will help to offset some of the costs of purchasing these items.”

In physical year 2018 the Health and Human Services department was awarded approximately $24,000 in FVPS funding, but for the upcoming physical year, Cole-Robinson said the number has nearly doubled.

“We’ve had this as a small funding source for a while and have been able to provide minimal services to our members, but now we’re able to expand and grow. I would like to continue to see our work within domestic violence continue to grow for our members,” she said.

Cole-Robinson is already searching for a part-time family services advocate to provide more “direct” services to tribal members.

“We’ll be able to work more directly with victims fleeing abusive relationships and provide more hands-on services like court accompaniment, helping them start over in a new home with deposits as well as our continued support to the shelter,” she said.

More than 4 in 5 American Indian and Alaska Native women have experienced violence in their lifetime, according to a report by the National Institute of Justice. The report further revealed that more than 1.5 million American Indian and Alaska women have experienced violence in their lifetime.

More than 4 in 5 American Indian and Alaska Native men have also experienced violence in their lifetime, numbers on par with women who experience violence.

“Unfortunately domestic violence and family violence is very prevalent in our communities and within our tribe,” said Cole-Robinson. “One is too many to have to suffer and go through that in silence, because the majority of the time they do suffer in silence. There’s a lot of connections within our community that keeps victims in their home and in the relationship. It’s a really deep issue when we’re looking at trying to help victims start over in a safe environment.”

She said her department focuses on “safety planning” for those who are “not quite” ready to leave or who are unable to leave out of fear.

“We will safety plan and start putting resources in place and we will start working with them on how to navigate the system of protective orders if that’s what they choose to do, navigate the system of Indian Child Welfare if children are involved,” said Cole-Robinson. “My goal for human services is to meet our member’s needs and to create a healthy home environment for our people.”

October was National Domestic Violence Awareness month. If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence and have questions about the programs and services offered by UKB, contact the Health and Human Services department at 918-871-2800.

Shelters listed in this article:

Family Crisis and Counseling Center in Bartlesville – 918-336-1188

Safenet Services Inc. in Claremore – 918-341-1424

Community Crisis Center in Miami – 1-800-400-0883

Women in Safe Homes in Muskogee – 918-682-7878

Help in Crisis Inc. in Tahlequah – 1-800-300-5321

Domestic Violence Intervention Services in Tulsa – 918-743-5763

 © 2020 united keetoowah band OF CHEROKEE INDIANs in Oklahoma

Open M-F | 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Phone: 1-918-871-2800

Email: info@ukb-nsn.gov

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Physical Address:
18263 W. Keetoowah Circle

Tahlequah, OK 74464

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 746

Tahlequah, OK 74464