Amy’s House gets new set of wheels for violence victims
CORNELIUS – Those who work with Amy’s House in Lincolnton can tell you: Sometimes providing something as simple as a ride can make all the difference.
The organization provides assistance to victims of domestic violence and abuse, as well as a safe place to stay. Part of that assistance includes providing transportation to and from appointments, court appearances and job interviews.
Amy’s House used to have a van, but it was in an accident a few years ago, and since then volunteers have been driving victims to appointments in their personal cars, Executive Director Vicky Lingerfelt said.
“It’s a little scary when you think about what could happen if you get in an accident, and it also gets a little tedious,” she said.
But Robin Salzman, owner and marketing director of Lake Norman Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram, solved that problem. She handed over the keys to a Dodge Grand Caravan, courtesy of the Cornelius dealership.
“Oh, this is just an answer to our prayers,” Amy’s House board member Pam Robinette told Salzman when the van drove up.
In addition to transportation for victims, the van will be able to haul donations, which will cut at least $4,000 from the Amy’s House budget.
A few Lincoln County volunteers, including Lingerfelt, organized Amy’s House in 1993 to help women and children escape dangerous homes. Initially the program sent women to shelters in other counties, but grants helped establish the Lincoln County shelter in 1995. The shelter can now house up to 23 victims.
Victims participate in the program at Amy’s House for 90 days. During that time, Lingerfelt said, the women set goals for themselves, participate in meal and budget planning classes, do chores, apply for jobs or job training and look for housing.
“They’re working their way back to a domestic violence-free life,” Lingerfelt said. “We also have resources available to help educate victims on programs like food stamps and Medicaid.”
Robinette said the program gets no county funding, and is instead supported through donations and grants.
Amy’s House also partners with several other organizations, like the Second Harvest Food Bank and East Lincoln Christian Ministry, to secure food and home furnishings.
And women who want to escape their abusers don’t have to stay at Amy’s House to get help, Lingerfelt said. “It’s open to everyone, and there’s no charge for any of our services,” she said.
“People sometime wonder why it’s so hard. ‘Why doesn’t she just leave?’” Lingerfelt said. “But in most cases she doesn’t think she can make it without him. Most don’t realize there are resources out there.”
Salzman said she had been looking for a local group to support.
“These ladies have given their lives to this organization, and I wanted to help,” Salzman said. “We do a lot, but this year I was looking for a smaller organization that doesn’t get as much support.”
She’s also donated a dishwasher for the kitchen and plans to provide backpacks full of school supplies for the children who stay at Amy’s House.
“I’ve been blessed and have never been in a situation like what these women go through,” Salzman said. “But when you hear about the numbers – one in four women will be abused – it’s incredible. And if my children or grandchildren ever ran into a situation like this, I’d hope there’d be a place like Amy’s House to help them.”