Travelers through Waynesville may have noticed a relatively new billboard near the Roubidoux Bridge about domestic violence and the dangers of silence.
The billboard from Good Samaritan of the Ozarks is meant by the organization to raise awareness and "hopefully start conversations," according to director Suzanne Wilber. Good Samaritan of the Ozarks operates the food pantry, thrift store, and Genesis House, a domestic violence shelter.
The organization has made several moves in the last couple of years to focus more on its domestic violence shelter, feeding and providing support for those in need, than some of the other charitable endeavors it has been involved with in the past.
Wilbur said the organization is trying to make itself available to victims and the billboard was a way to remind the public that they are here and there are resources out there. Genesis House has been focusing on finding funding for professional positions such as a therapist, a child advocate program coordinator, and a new victim advocate who will be traveling to rural areas in the county.
The organization has had a public presence in Pulaski County since 1975, according to Wilber, and just wants the community to realize they're here and able to help.
Genesis House offers support, information, and access to services that are meant to help domestic and sexual violence victims and their children.
"Genesis staff offers survivors information about the different options available to them, as well as, supporting survivors decision-making. Our staff is committed to maintaining the highest possible levels of confidentiality in our communication with survivors. Genesis provides a pathway towards self-sufficiency and empowerment," Good Samaritan's website says.
The services offered by Genesis House include temporary safe shelter, domestic and sexual violence education, safety planning, support group, case management, limited transportation, and a 25-hour crisis line.
A text line has been added to the tools in Genesis House's repertoire that allows texters to anonymously contact the crisis line for help. The line is available for domestic and sexual violence victims, offering a new layer of safety at 573-433-4631, as opposed to the voice crisis line at 774-2628.
In an interview with the Daily Guide earlier this year, Katy Knoeck, of Genesis House said, "You make a phone call in a room, everyone notices."
Imagine you’re a victim of domestic or sexual violence, your abuser keeps tight control over what you do and where you go. You have a cell phone, but the abuser listens in on calls and you’re without much privacy.
“This is a safe alternative to calling the crisis line,” Knoeck said.
Knoeck said the texts aren’t saved and victims do not even have to give the names of their abusers or their own names, if they don’t want to. If the text line receives a text asking, “Who is this?” Knoeck said advocates will not respond.
“I don’t need your name to be able to help you. I don’t need the person who’s hurting you’s name. I’m just trying to help the person (who texted) get through whatever they are going through at the time,” Knoeck said.
Wilber told the Daily Guide in our recent interview that the organization took over 500 crisis calls last year and "over 300 of them needed our services."
The organization, which runs primarily on donations, grants, and sales from the thrift store is looking toward the future. Wilber told the Daily Guide that she would like to see the organization add transitional housing to its available services for victims. Unfortunately, the organization doesn't have the money to purchase property or build apartments, but it is a wish.
Good Samaritan is a private non-profit that is not under any other organization, although other organizations do contribute to them, like the Salvation Army. For individuals interested in understanding the organization, it accepts donations and those that donate get a 50 percent tax credit when they do.
To donate to Good Samaritan and Genesis House, individuals can stop by the Thrift Store located at
1807 -- 1811 West Historic Route 66, Waynesville or visit http://www.goodsam-genesis.org and donate online.