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United Appeal

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United Appeal Spotlight: My Sister’s Place provides safe haven for victims of relationship abuse

Between Nov. 1 and Dec. 24, the Ohio University community is participating in United Appeal's "United 2 Give, United 2 Help" fundraising campaign. Through this editorial series, Compass seeks to highlight some of the community agencies that will benefit from OHIO's giving.

Located in a confidential four-bedroom house in Athens, Ohio, My Sister's Place is more than a shelter for victims of domestic violence. Promoting safety and self-determination, its free services include outreach counseling, court advocacy and even a listening ear through the organization's 24-hour hotline.

As one of the first shelters for victims of domestic abuse in southeast Ohio, My Sister's Place opened its doors in 1977, using donated spaces to house its earliest clients. The organization became Ohio Department of Mental Health certified in 1992, making it the third agency and first women's shelter in Ohio to be awarded.

Much about the organization remains undisclosed for the safety of its clients. But when it comes to advocating equality and justice for women, My Sister's Place is anything but quiet. Driving that mission is two-time OHIO graduate Kelly Cooke, who now serves as the organization's executive director.

Cooke recently spoke with Compass about her agency, its mission, and the invaluable support of the OHIO community in the organization's first year receiving support though the United Appeal campaign.

What goals do you have for the 2012 United Appeal campaign?

Cooke: Our shelter has a confidential location, and I think because of that we've become somewhat underground over the years. I think we need to be out there [in the community] so that people can see us as more of a mainstream service.

Just as people don't feel embarrassed about going to see a doctor about a medical concern, I really want to get to the point where there's less of a stigma on accessing help with a relationship abuse issue.

How does the organization connect with the University?

Cooke: We have had student groups do fundraisers for us, which is a great help. In the past we've had all sorts of volunteers from Ohio University. We are going to have a volunteer orientation coming up at the beginning of January, and we expect that a lot of students will be involved in that.

How would donations from the campaign help My Sister's Place?

Cooke: The funds go in to our general fund and go to cover things that aren't covered by grants. For example: our court advocate's salary, for utilities and just day-to-day needs that we have. The grants we access are increasingly competitive, so community support like the United Appeal really makes a big difference for us.  

United Appeal's "United 2 Give, United 2 Help" fundraising campaign runs through Dec. 24. For more information, visit http://www.unitedappeal.org.

Did you know?

Did you know you can specify which partner organization receives your United Appeal donation?

For your donation to be used by a specific program or out-of-county united fund, simply indicate the organization on your pledge form under "Donor Choice."

Click here to download a pledge form.

For those who authorize it on the pledge form, payroll deductions will be taken out of paychecks beginning Jan. 1. This will be done on a semi-monthly basis, per the University's new pay cycle.