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Press Releases

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Social Work Club Hosts Life Crisis Center 'Baby Shower' December 3

SALISBURY, MD---Salisbury University’s Social Work Club sponsors a “Baby Shower” to support area children and the Life Crisis Center 7-9:30 p.m. Thursday, December 3, in the colonnade of the Teacher Education and Technology Center (TETC).

Faculty, staff, students and the community are invited to bring “gifts” or monetary donations. Suggested new items for babies and toddlers include clothes, toys and supplies, such as baby wipes, formula, diapers and pull-ups.

Cookie Lee jewelry will be sold at the event, with proceeds benefiting the Life Crisis Center. Donations are also accepted in advance at the Social Work Office, located in the TETC Room 254.

For more information, e-mail Stephanie Hitchens at

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A Brief History of the Life Crisis Center
By Dr. Deborah Mathews, SU Social Work Department associate chair and Life Crisis Center co-founder

In the early 1970s there was a young woman in Salisbury who was raped.  This was a time when the laws were still archaic and the services non-existent. The minister of my church met this young woman and was angry that there were no victim services. He and I started talking about what should be and how to get there. No agency seemed particularly interested in taking on the issue of victim services.

First we got mad and then we got naively driven. We went to our regional church (in Washington, D.C.) and appealed to them for money to start a victim assistance program. They said no. However, there was someone on that board who had a personal sensitivity to the issue and sent us (through our local church) $10,000 (anonymously) which, at that time, was enough to get us started.

This donation allowed us (my roommate and I were the staff) to start a hotline in our home for the beach area during the summer. The two of us were trained at a Wilmington, DE, sexual assault center perform do emergency response for sexual assault victims. We walked the boardwalk in each of the primary beach communities and were allowed to put our signs in ladies' rooms. We spent the summer arguing with cops and local politicians about whether or not rape happened at the beach (I thought of their denial as the Jaws mentality).

Fall came; the money was gone, but our commitment was only greater.  Over the next two years the hotline moved from my house to an office in the hospital (where I slept several nights a week on a cot) to Faith Lutheran Church's administrative building. We went from two volunteers to a couple dozen. I became the director and  spent my evenings responding to victims or training new volunteers (I was also in school as an undergraduate) and my days training law enforcement and hunting for money. We were funded through donations and yard sale-type fund-raising. The mental health association paid our phone bill after we expanded and became a general hotline, which was done to increase the funding possibilities.

The first grant we got was in about year three and was a VOCA grant.  By this time we had a track record, a pool of volunteers and a board.  I can't tell you the number of grants we did not get in those early years.

For the first five to seven years, the program was solely a general hotline and a sexual assault response program. When Senator Joe Biden's bill came through to fund domestic violence programs, we expanded to include those services, and somewhere around year 10 (when I finished my M.S.W. and was licensed) we became a counseling center.

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