Ray of Hope Wraps First Year in New Home; Expands Hope

Ray of Hope Wraps First Year in New Home; Expands Hope

A lot can happen in one year. At Ray of Hope, one year represents the 630 area victims of abuse who walked through the doors to find hope and healing.

Since opening the doors to their new facility in June 2018, Ray of Hope Advocacy Center has served more than 270 children and 360 adult victims of abuse.

“Our number one goal last year was ensuring we continued providing the same high level of care for child abuse victims and their families in our new larger facility,” Ray of Hope Executive Director Rhonda Hudson said. “I know we have achieved that goal while utilizing the additional space to expand necessary prevention and treatment services.”

New services already launched include a clothing closet and the Grace-Epworth Conference Center. The clothing closet guarantees children entering foster care or in a crisis situation have access to new shoes, clothing, and toiletries. In the conference center, more than 150 professionals have received professional development and almost 400 community members have been trained in Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect in an effort to confirm that our entire community is a part the safety net for keeping children safe.

Ray of Hope has accomplished a lot in one year. A lot can also change in one year.

“And now, we’re expanding HOPE even more,” Hudson said. “This June, we partnered with Domestic Violence Intervention Services (DVIS) of Tulsa to launch a certified response to domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking for our community. Following the unexpected closure of the Family Crisis and Counseling in December 2018, we’ve worked with the Oklahoma Office of Attorney General, Victims of Crime Act grantors and community leaders to fill the gaping hole for survivors of domestic abuse, sexual assault, and stalking.”

Hudson says a full-time court advocate and case manager are both on-site at Ray of Hope to provide assistance with protective orders, court advocacy, safety planning and assistance with emergency safe-shelter and transitional housing. Beginning in August, a full-time mental health professional will be onsite to provide individual and family counseling for victims of child abuse, sexual assault and domestic violence, as well as providing support and educational groups for clients.

“Following the closure of Family Crisis and Counseling, our board and staff thoughtfully planned how we could best be a part of a solution because we know children are not safe when families are not safe,” Ray of Hope Board President Jordan Ihrig said. “We’ve looked at child abuse and family violence trends both locally and nationally. There is a clear link between domestic violence and child abuse. We simply could not ignore this need in our community.”

Research suggests that in an estimated 30 to 60 percent of the families where domestic violence is identified, some form of co-occurring child maltreatment is also present. Additionally, 65 percent of adults that abuse their partner also physically and/or sexually abuse their children. (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute)

“When planning our new facility and renovation, our board and staff intentionally allotted space for growth or the unexpected,” Ihrig said. “Because of that foresight and visionary leadership, along with our generous donors and supporters, Ray of Hope has the space and ability to provide a safety net for survivors of domestic abuse, sexual assault, and stalking. We are thankful to partner with DVIS, statewide experts in their field, to ensure every victim in our community has access to safety, hope, and healing.”

The DVIS mission is to rebuild lives affected by domestic violence and sexual assault through advocacy, shelter, counseling, and education.

In the early part of 2016, Ray of Hope Advocacy Center was gifted the former Grace-Epworth Methodist Church by East Cross Methodist Church. More than $850,000 was raised to renovate Grace-Epworth into the new Ray of Hope facility. Major donors to the campaign include The Lyon Foundation, The Jeanalee, and Charles Parsons Foundation, The Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation, Ruth K. Nelson, The Hale Family Foundation and Truity Credit Union.

“Ray of Hope Advocacy Center has a long history of serving our community’s most vulnerable by providing forensic interviews, family advocacy, medical exams, using a collaborative, joint response for children and families impacted by abuse and trauma,” Hudson said. “While this expansion was unexpected a year ago, we are grateful to be in a position to respond and ensure that survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking have access to the same compassionate care with which we’ve always served. In partnership with DVIS, Ray of Hope proudly offers comprehensive services including court advocacy, case management, safety planning, emergency safe-shelter, counseling, and support groups to all survivors.”

Ray of Hope serves families in Washington, Nowata and Osage Counties as well as southern Kansas.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking please call our 24-hour hotline at 918.214.8886. If you are in immediate danger call 911.