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Hope is on the other end of the line

GATESVILLE – The mission of Albemarle Hopeline is about as clear as it gets…. a private, non-profit organization providing comprehensive direct and preventive services to victims of family violence, sexual assault, and teen dating violence in the counties of Pasquotank, Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Perquimans, and Gates.

Dwight Decoskey, Executive Director of Albemarle Hopeline, attended a recent meeting of the Gates County Board of Commissioners to promote his organization and the many free services it offers its cliental.

“Hopeline provides safety, security and defense for people who in a lot of cases can’t do that for themselves,” he said.

Local governments of the six counties served by the 37-year-old organization contribute financially to its operation.

“We’ve helped tens of thousands of residents of the Albemarle region over that period of time,” Decoskey noted.

He added that Hopeline offers an “around-the-clock” shelter to victims and their families. A thrift store, located at 923 Halstead Blvd. in Elizabeth City, is operated through donations of items to sell helps fund the shelter.

The shelter features nine rooms and is capable of housing up to 36 individuals. He said those rooms are reserved for the families of victims. If there is overflow, Albemarle Hopeline has agreements with business partners and other shelters.

“We always try to get them in our facility due to the safety and security we can offer,” Decoskey said. “We have a clean and modern facility. They are going into a very livable area that gets them out of danger.”

The shelter also provides meals three times each day.

“The shelter and the meals give them the mental calmness they need to heal emotionally and physically,” he stated.

Decoskey pointed out that while the thrift store operates to generate funding for the shelter, it also serves a more meaningful purpose.

“In so many cases, those fleeing from domestic or sexual violence situations do so with nothing more than the clothes on their back,” he stressed. “In those situations we allow the victims to go to the thrift store and get the basic items they need, all at no cost to them.”

Hopeline also offers other services, to include a 24-hour Crisis Line, counseling, prevention education, court advocacy, a crisis response team, prevention education, information and referral, and the Power to Improve Program.

“We have lawyers on retainer who offer their legal services; and we have our court advocates, even if it’s just to hold a victim’s hand or give them a shoulder to cry on,” Decoskey stated.

He also touted the Power to Improve Program, one where victims/survivors are moved from dependency to economic, emotional and physical self-sufficiency. Services are provided to those previously dependent on the income of another household member but are no longer supported by that income and are unemployed or underemployed due to lack of required training or experience.

“If they didn’t finish high school, we’ll help them work to gain their GED,” Decoskey shared. “We also partner with the College of the Albemarle to help these individuals gain a higher level of education. One such program is a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant). In less than two months they can gain certification and land a job. These types of jobs are in high demand.”

He said the Prevention Education aspect of Hopeline offers the community a variety of educational programs on domestic violence, sexual assault, teen dating violence and elder abuse. Specially designed programs are presented to area schools, civic and church groups, and the community at large.

Another important tool of Hopeline is the Crisis Line.

“When an abusive situation occurs, victims can pick up the phone, call us and we’re available 24/7 – 365,” Decoskey said. “Incidents of domestic violence do not typically occur between the hours of 9-to-5. Rather, they typically occur from 10 p.m. until 3 a.m. and on weekends and holidays. Hopeline is fully staffed around the clock and there to help those in the counties we serve.”

The 24-hour crisis line is available at 252-338-3011.

For the future, Decoskey said Hopeline is launching a program that offers on-the-job training.

“We’ll start them off in our thrift store; once they show they can manage their lives and live up to a work schedule we’ll move them into a customer service role,” Decoskey explained. “Step three will be to move them to the (checkout) register where they’ll learn to make change. Once they graduate this program, they will be able to go to any retail store, show a completion certificate of our program, and land a job.”

For more information on Albemarle Hopeline, call the main office at 252-338-5338. For information on how to donate to the thrift store or to learn its operation hours, call 252-338-3107 for store hours.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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