Alicia's Voice, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping Wood County victims of domestic violence get out of their abusive relationships, is closing its doors for good.
|Kathy Newlove, seen on February 6, 2013, is closing the headquarters to Alicia's Voice in Bowling Green, Ohio, after 6 years of service helping victims of domestic violence in Wood County. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
After almost six years of operation, the Bowling Green-based center is forced to end operations as of next Monday, according to board president and founder Kathy Newlove.
"We had our board meeting on Monday and it looks like this is where we're headed," Newlove confirmed Wednesday.
Finances are the sole reason for the difficult decision.
"I have shed some tears over it," said Newlove. "It's the very last thing in the world I want to see happen, but I don't see anything else I can do. Unless a miracle occurs," she added, her voice trailing off.
Newlove created Alicia's Voice in response to the March 2007 Bowling Green murder of her daughter, Alicia Castillion. Alicia was killed along with her boyfriend by the father of two of Alicia's children.
Determined that "such a thing not happen to any other families," she and others started Alicia's Voice just 10 days later.
Since then, the organization has provided practical and material assistance to more than 1,400 women in Wood County, along with their children.
Newlove and other members of the Alicia's Voice Board of Directors, including Deputy Ginnie Barta, domestic violence officer with the Wood County Sheriff's Office, had been working to put together a gala fundraiser dinner-dance on Feb. 16 at Bowling Green City Park. But as of Tuesday only 15 people had RSVP'd for the "My Big Tacky Wedding Reception" fundraiser even though 500 invitations have been sent out.
At least 100 people would have to attend to make it worthwhile, a number that doesn't look like it's going to be reached. Thus, the fundraiser is being canceled.
"It seems like every year it's a little bit harder and a little bit harder" to garner the financial support needed to keep Alicia's Voice up and running, Newlove said.
In a way, she understands the charity-weariness. "(Domestic violence) is not a pleasant subject for people to think about."
And the economy in recent years hasn't helped.
With a $5,000 lease payment looming on the building that houses Alicia's Voice, at 344 S. Main St., the crisis point has been reached.
For Chrissy Wilson, a Bowling Green mother who was helped by Alicia's Voice in 2010, the idea of its ceasing to exist is unbearable.
"I've been doing everything possible to help her not close the doors" but "barring a miracle" that is what is about to happen.
Wilson says she fled to the Cocoon Shelter in the summer of 2010 with her two daughters, now ages 14 and 16.
"When the girls and I came out of that we were hooked up with Kathy," Wilson said. "She helped me and my daughters a whole lot."
Wilson believes the public does not realize what a vital service Alicia's Voice has provided women trying to escape domestic violence.
"A lot of us don't even make it out of the door with anything but the clothes on our back" when fleeing an abuser. "She buys them their medicine, provides them with money to pay their rent." In many cases "she buys them clothes, shoes."
Newlove confirmed Alicia's Voice has provided rent, deposits, car repairs, utility bills, phone bills, gas cards, alarms systems, tires, clothing, household supplies, day care, and Christmas gifts, depending on the woman's individual needs.
The list has even included further education.
Presently, "we're putting six women through STNA (state-tested nursing assistant) schooling," said Newlove, with the goal of giving the women a way to support their families.
Alicia's Voice has about $16,000 remaining in its coffers, according to Newlove,
"I want people to know" the board has decided to put the entirety of that funding - and any future donations received - to post-high school education for still more women fleeing domestic violence "until the money is gone."
She plans to continue to speak to schools and organizations "to spread the word of this astronomical problem."
"We feel blessed to have been able to support these victims and transform them into survivors over the course of the last six years," she said. "This has been my daughter's legacy. Without the help of our many supporters and our board members we never would have been able to accomplish this and we thank them from the bottom of our hearts."