Lodi Women's Center celebrates 25 years

The Women's Center volunteers and staff gather outside the Washington Street office.

Twenty five years ago, Women’s Center-Youth & Family Services’ Lodi Office was located in a small classroom with a desk and one telephone for domestic violence and sexual assault crisis calls.

The center was founded by three pioneering women in the community: Doris McCaughna, Pat Robison and the late Lois Borchardt; and was initially funded by a $4,000 grant from the American Association of University Women (AAUW). In 1990, Women’s Center-YFS’ Lodi Office opened its doors. Twenty-two volunteers were trained by Women’s Center-YFS’ staff to answer crisis calls and assist with information and referrals.

In 1991, thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, the Lodi City Council and General Mills, a house at 29 S. Washington Street was purchased by Women’s Center-YFS. At this new permanent location, services grew. Volunteers were able to provide individual counseling services, support groups, a clothes closet, assistance with temporary restraining orders, and court accompaniment for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Now, each year more than 750 survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault receive critical services through Women’s Center-YFS’ Lodi Office. In the fiscal year 2013-14, the Lodi volunteers contributed 733 hours of service.

Today the office is still supported by dedicated volunteers who give much of their time to Women’s Center-YFS Lodi office. On March 17, 16 women who have dedicated their time over the past 25 years, including two of the founding members (Doris McCaughna and Pat Robison), came together to mark the 25th anniversary of the office.

The volunteers and staff celebrated how the Lodi Office, which started from humble beginnings in a classroom, has become an important resource for victims in the community. The volunteers and staff enjoyed a celebratory lunch, while chatting about memories over the past quarter century and looking through old pictures and articles. Women’s Center-Youth & Family Services’ Lodi Office wouldn’t be what it is today without each and every one of these fantastic volunteers.

Women’s Center-YFS operates eight sites throughout San Joaquin County, and is the county’s only provider of free, confidential shelter and services specifically designed to meet the needs of victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and homeless and runaway youth. Each year the agency serves 25,000 individuals through its direct services and community outreach, including 700 to 800 women, children and youth who stay in its shelters annually.

The mission of Women’s Center-Youth & Family Services is to build a stronger community by fostering the strengths in individuals and by acting as a catalyst to end violence and youth homelessness. For more information about Women’s Center-YFS and its programs and services, visit www.womenscenteryfs.org or call 209-941-2611.

— Source: Joelle Gomez

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