Editor’s Note: United Way for Dawson County kicked off its annual fundraising campaign in September with plans to collect more than $100,000 for area social service organization partners. This is the first in a series of articles highlighting success stories from local agencies that receive assistance from United Way for Dawson County.
By Tia Lynn Lecorchick
For the past several years, Rape Response Inc, a community-based, non-profit organization that aims to prevent sexual assault in Dawson and four other counties, has received funding from United Way for Dawson County.
“There is no other organization like them (Rape Response Inc) that services Dawson County and the surrounding areas,” said Ruth Goode, executive director of the United Way for Dawson County.
Servicing Dawson, Habersham, Hall, Lumpkin and White counties for almost two decades, Rape Response Inc works with victims of sexual assault and proactively educates children and adults about sexual assault prevention, protection and recourse.
“We couldn’t provide our services, or our prevention education program, without the support of the United Way for Dawson County,” said Terri Strayhorn, executive director of Rape Response.
Services provided by Rape Response Inc also include a 24 hour crisis line, staffed by trained personnel and volunteers, crisis counseling, accompaniment to the hospital, providing support throughout the gathering of physical evidence, the criminal investigation process and legal proceedings.
They also recommend referrals for long-term counseling. The main office of Rape Response is located in Gainesville.
The money contributed by United Way for Dawson County is used to fund the middle school prevention program, the 24-hour crisis hotline and crisis counseling for victims of sexual assault as well as their family members, and support through the legal process for victims and their families.
United Way for Dawson County accepts applications for assistance from local social service agencies and allocates funding after a strict review process, said United Way for Dawson County board member Jay Sessions.
“Rape Response is one of several agencies the board feels provides a unique and much needed service to the Dawson County community,” Sessions said.
Over the last several years Rape Response has helped 79 victims from Dawson County and taught the Date Rape Curriculum to over 200 students.
The Date Rape Curriculum, which is approved by the State Board of Education and has won several awards, is taught at the local middle schools to all eighth graders.
“They do so much good with so very little funding. That’s why we support them year after year,” said Goode.
Rape Response also teams up with Dawson County Law Enforcement and the District Attorney’s Office to readily assist victims of sexual assault. The organization wins the trust of victims by enacting a strict confidentiality contract.
Goode believes Rape Response Inc to be an invaluable resource to the community.
“They are always available when victims are in need of help. There’s nobody else like them,” said Goode.
For more information about the organization, visit, www.raperesponse.com or call the main number/crisis line at (770) 503-7273.