Community Support Helps NWA Women’s Shelter Stay Open

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BENTON COUNTY (KFSM) -- The Northwest Arkansas Women's Shelter will not be closing its doors in July thanks to community support.

The Women's Shelter serves both moms and dads who need a safe place to stay with their children.

Due to a lack of funding, the shelter asked the community for help raising $150,000 by the end of June so they could stay open.

“We have raised 70% of it today. So while we haven`t quite met that goal, we also realize that the initial request six weeks ago may have not been adequate timing to engage and mobilize the community that we really haven`t communicated with for ten years,” said Merritt Royal, Development Director.

The shelter currently has 35 people, 20 of whom are children. They only have one room unoccupied, which is reserved for law enforcement who need to bring someone in.

Royal said she is thrilled the community has been so willing to support them through many fundraisers during the last several months. She said there is a tremendous need for the shelter in the community.

“Our projections are that there are approximately 136,000 people here in Northwest Arkansas based on our population who are impacted by domestic violence,” she said.

Royal said they are happy to not have to close, but she knows there is still work to do. The shelter now needs to raise another $150,000 by October.

“We know that if our shelter ever had to close and we`re hopeful again that it never does, but if we ever had to close Benton County would be the only county with a population it`s size in a three state area, Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma without a shelter,” she said.

The board announced a $45,000 donation was accepted from Jane Hunt Meade. The donation was followed by a challenge to raise $100,000. If the shelter successfully raises that amount by October 2016, the donor said they would donate another $50,000.

“We were looking at closing our doors next week, when we started the campaign several weeks ago," said Thomas Evans, President of the shelter board. "I think the recent calculations, we are now probably likely to continue into next year."