Avalon receives $64,000 grant to aid local women’s crisis center

    The Avalon Center for Women and Children received a $64,000 federal grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Jan. 20.

    Avalon is an organization that offers a 24-hour crisis line and emergency shelter for women and children who have experienced domestic violence, stalking or sexual abuse. The community-based center in the City of Williamsburg is part of a larger system created by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness.

    According to Avalon Executive Director Sarah Meachaw, the federal grant came at the right time for Avalon. Meachaw called for financial help in Avalon’s fall 2010 newsletter, since funding was down 18 percent and demand for services was on the rise. With this grant money, Avalon can afford to support more women and children in the emergency shelter, as well as continue to provide legal services, educational programs and job training.

    Many students in the College of William and Mary community are involved in Avalon, many through greek organizations. Allison Gibbs ’11, a two-year volunteer at the shelter, said that Avalon provides much-needed services to many in the area.

    “Avalon center has drastically changed the lives of women and children in need by providing shelter, support and resources,” Gibbs said. “The recent grant will allow Avalon to make positive strides in trying to end homelessness in our community.”

    The faculty and volunteers at Avalon work first hand with the women and children to empower them to become self-sufficient and safe in the future. The center can house only 22 women and children each night, and has been forced to turn down 68 requests because of limited capacity. Additional funding could allow for an increase in the center’s capacity.

    The grant is part of the Opening Doors strategy, officially titled “Opening Doors: The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness,” created by the USICH. The program aims to “prevent and end homelessness” through $1.4 billion in funding. To date, approximately 7,000 homeless programs and shelters have been awarded grants.

    The commonwealth of Virginia has received nearly $20 million in grants for homeless shelters. The strategy aims to end chronic homelessness by 2015.


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