HOUSTON - When we think of first responders or essential workers, many don’t think of places like the Houston Area Women’s Center, but they respond to crisis 24/7, making them vulnerable to an outbreak of COVID-19.
Emilee Whitehurst, President and CEO of the Houston Area Women’s Center, tells FOX 26, “We are running a very different operation than normal in order to make sure that the health and safety of our staff and our clients are respected...as a result we are down some staff members and have had to make sure that family units are staying together.”
The Houston Area Women’s Center had 23 positive cases of COVID-19. 12 staff members, four mothers, and seven children. Only three active cases remain, but their shelter is now used as a quarantine facility, while others who were not infected were put up in area hotels.
“We are putting people up in hotels so that they can be safe. That’s not cheap, and that means we are providing transportation and food, and then the good news is that we work with people, not just when they are in crisis, but as they work to build self-determined lives, free from violence and especially so that they are not financially dependent on their abuser,“ says Whitehurst.
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Whitehurst added the center continues to see a rise in domestic violence incidents, due to the economic stress the Coronavirus has caused. City and donor grants are keeping them afloat to continue providing their services and keep families safe.
Whitehurst assures they are still here for their clients, “I am confident that when people call us they are still able to get services that they need, and we are able to house people safely. So I do want people to know that if they need a safe place to go, they will be able to go to a place, a hotel where they will not be residing next to somebody who is COVID positive or interacting with a staff member who is positive.”
If you are in need of service or are interested in donating to the Houston Area Women’s Center, click here.