Integreon is proud to support the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center of Fargo-Moorhead (RACC), recent recipients of the FM Chamber Choice Not-for-Profit of the year award and 'team green' in the upcoming Charity Challenge on June 4th.
For today's feature we're talking with Kara Odegaard, Director of Development to learn more about the impact the RACC has on this community.
What is the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center and what work Are you doing in the local community?
The Rape and Abuse Crisis Center (RACC) has been at the forefront of efforts to improve the lives of victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, child sexual abuse, elder abuse, and human trafficking and sexual exploitation. The agency provides crisis intervention, advocacy, counseling, and prevention and education throughout eastern North Dakota and west-central Minnesota.
What is the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center’s mission?
RACC’s mission is to offer crisis intervention, advocacy, counseling, and education to all persons affected by sexual and domestic violence and to provide prevention programs to create a society free of personal abuse.
How does the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center impact our community?
Victims of violence and abuse are at a substantially increased risk for life-long mental and physical health problems, problems in personal relationships, and poor school and job performance. Additionally, the experience of victimization is a contributing factor to social problems such as homelessness and poverty. RACC works diligently to meet the immediate and long-term needs of those affected by violence in order to reduce these risks, and to support them on their way to a healthy future.
How did the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center begin?
In 1977, two agencies—WomenAbuse (serving battered women), and the Rape Crisis Center (serving victims of sexualviolence)—merged to become the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center. The agency served 52 victims of domestic violence and 73 victims of sexual assault that year. In 2015, RACC provided services to over 3,000 male and female, adult, child, and elder victims, and provided over 900 educational presentations reaching over 18,000 people. Over 80,000 victims have accessed RACC’s services since 1977, and as RACC identifies needs and service gaps in the community, the reach will continue to widen.
How is the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center funded? How many employees and volunteers do you have?
The agency is financially supported by donors in the community committed to RACC’s mission, as well as a number of federal, state, and foundation grants including (but not limited to) the ND Department of Health, MN Department of Public Safety-Office of Justice Programs, United Way, Otto Bremer Trust, Bush Foundation, etc. RACC is staffed by 27 full-time and 16 part-time staff, and has a regular volunteer base of 63 committed community members.
How does the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center use any contributions, monetary or otherwise?
All contributions and donations go towards providing quality and effective services for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and child sexual abuse, and their families.
Could you highlight and explain an initiative or program that the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center is particularly proud of?
In 2012, RACC initiated a project to raise awareness and improve community and system responses regarding elder abuse. Elder abuse is unique in that the abuses may or may not be committed by an intimate partner, but rather adult children or other family members, friends, and/or caregivers. Many cases of elder abuse go unreported due to a lack of understanding about the issue, and untreated when system professionals do not have the tools to respond to the unique challenges of the case.
Over the last three years, RACC has made a strong effort to reach elders in the community and their support networks to educate them about what elder abuse looks like and what resources are available to them. Additionally, RACC has facilitated the training of law enforcement officers, prosecutors, victim advocates, social services, long-term care providers, and a variety of other community organizations serving the elderly population on the issue. RACC employs an Abuse Later in Life advocate who is trained to attend to the specific needs of elderly victims, and collaborates with other professionals in the community as a part of the Elder Abuse Forensic Network in order to continue improving the collective response to the problem.
What outcomes has the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center seen through its work?
RACC believes the experience of the individuals seeking support is of utmost importance, and should be the primary gauge for the agency’s success. In 2015, 100% of clients surveyed indicated the services provided were helpful to them; 98% indicated they learned about available resources; 97% walked away with new information regarding safety; 100% felt staff understood their problems and concerns, and that communication was clear; and 98% received the services they wanted.
What are the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center’s goals in the next three to five years?
In the next three to five years, the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center of Fargo-Moorhead will expand and enhance programming and educational services for the communities that the organization serves. The organization will continue to serve victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and child sexual abuse and will continue to advance programming services for victims of elder abuse and human trafficking. In addition, the organization will continue to expand primary prevention efforts and develop additional educational curricula to create safe communities for all.
How will these goals be achieved?
In order to achieve what has been identified above, the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center will continue to build on the solid foundation that has been established over the course of the previous 39 years. The organization will continue to seek appropriate funding, facilitate community awareness events / activities, reinforce the efforts of organizational partners and advocate on a community level for those that seek the agencies services.
What message would you hope to share with potential participants or supporters of the Integreon Charity Challenge?
Domestic violence, sexual assault and child sexual abuse are preventable; Integreon’s Charity Challenge advances that vision.
Why should the community donate or volunteer to help the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center?
RACC has been designated the domestic violence and sexual assault provider of Fargo-Moorhead area by both North Dakota and Minnesota. All services are offered free of cost to those seeking help by highly trained and educated staff. RACC is effectively integrated into every formal system (law enforcement, courts, schools, colleges, local government, etc.), and with the support of individuals and businesses valuing the mission, RACC will continue working to achieve community safety.