Peoples supports shelter creation

Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services logoWashington’s Peoples Bank has given a $25,000 donation to Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services of Whatcom County to support creation of a new shelter.

The Peoples Bank Impact Grant will help bring a new 11-bed shelter to Bellingham, its third in the city and fifth overall.

“Shelter is the last resort for many survivors. By the time they come to DVSAS, they have likely been through at least one traumatic and emotional event,” said Jessica Heck, DVSAS development director.

The funds will be used  to purchase high-quality furniture and bedding, provide a fully-stocked and functional kitchen, and offer new towels and bathroom amenities at our newest shelter opening this summer. “These comforts allow us to create a welcoming, comfortable and operational environment, and most importantly, give our clients hope,” Heck said. “We are so grateful to Peoples Bank for making this possible.”

The Safe Housing Program operated by DVSAS originally included one 21-bed, shared residence for female survivors and their children who were homeless or about to become homeless due to domestic violence. Upon taking over the program in 2014, it was clear that more beds were needed to meet the demand of the county. In late 2015, with a mortgage from Peoples Bank, DVSAS purchased two additional buildings to serve as safe shelters. In July 2017, DVSAS opened a four-bed, shared residence for single female survivors.

DVSAS runs the only domestic violence and sexual assault-specific programs in Whatcom County. Last year, DVSAS served nearly 2,300 clients through its 24-hour helpline, walk-in support center, advocacy counseling, legal advocacy, shelters and other essential services.

“We are very proud to award our 2018 Impact Grant to DVSAS so it can expand its services and continue its important work helping survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault find safety, support, and hope,” said Michelle Barrett, executive vice president,chief retail banking and marketing officer at Peoples Bank.

Peoples Bank Impact Grants are designed to provide a maximum of $25,000 to a single organization for a specific project, use or identified purpose that will have a long lasting, positive impact on the community. Approximately 50 community organizations submitted applications for the grant in 2018.