Durham, N.C. — The Durham Crisis Response Center helps thousands of people each year, but skyrocketing maintenance costs and plummeting donations and government funding have put it in need of aid from the community it serves.
About 20 people each day ask for help through the center's 24-hour crisis helpline and temporary shelter for abuse victims. That's 140 people a week and more than 7,000 in a year.
"The shelter means everything to me. The shelter saved my life," said Bessie Elmore, who was once the victim of domestic abuse.
Elmore left her abusive husband with only a quarter in her pocket. "With that 25 cents, I called the crisis line," she said.
But now the temporary shelter and the crisis center's main building on North Dilliard Street are in dire need of repairs. At the same time, state and federal funding has been cut.
There are holes in the foundation and water damage, electrical problems and broken windows throughout the buildings. The roof is collapsing, and even the floor is rotting.
Despite those problems, there's still great demand for the crisis center's services.
"Every two minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted," spokeswoman Jessie Sterner said.
"Women are dying to get into the shelter," Elmore said.
The center is trying to raise $10,000 and has planned various events and fundraisers in April, including a golf tournament next Sunday. The proceeds will go toward repairs and helping victims.
"We'll be able to save a lot more lives," crisis center volunteer Sam Clayborn said.