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PAVE: Empowering People Affected By Violence in Dodge County

By Rebecca Gaunt

People Against A Violent Environment, or PAVE, focuses on empowering people in Dodge County, Wisconsin who have been affected by violence. The organization's free services are based on a three-pronged approach: crisis service, collaborating with the community, and providing prevention education.

The idea for PAVE was forged in 1978 as the Dodge-Jefferson Coalition Against Domestic Abuse. Due to lack of funding, the group struggled to serve its two-county area. The Dodge County members then created PAVE and opened the first office in 1982. Within just the first six months, the organization received 200 crisis calls. Over the years, the needs of their clientele increased, and the group grew from four volunteers to a full-time staff. Since 1992, they have helped 10,000 people in need.

"As I began my career in human services, I realized that victims were often times under-served and left without a voice," says Executive Director Teresa Nienow. "PAVE works to give victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault that voice."

PAVE makes a number of services available to the public. The group runs a 24-hour crisis hotline that operates 365 days a year, a secure 22-bed shelter, emergency transportation, case managers, and LGBTQ services. It also offers legal, children's, and sexual assault advocacy teams. Prevention education programs cover child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, shaken baby syndrome, and sexual harassment. School programs focus on healthy relationships and dating.

"We have numerous community collaborations through the Domestic Abuse Response Team and Sexual Assault Response Team. Team members include Beaver Dam Community Hospital SANE nurses, police officers, probation and parole, the DA's office, Victim Witness, and Psychiatric Associates, among other community agencies that are dedicated to stopping violence," says Nienow.

Since PAVE has a small staff, volunteers are essential to the operation. They help with direct client work, shelter operations, fundraising, and government advocacy. "You can be a friend - listen, don't judge, talk safety, provide options and resources, remember privacy, verbalize that your help is unconditional, and be kind," adds Nienow.

PAVE relies on donations to fund its programs, in addition to state and federal funding. A $75 donation can cover a night in the shelter, while a $1000 donation can fund a support group for a year. The nonprofit has also benefitted from radiothons by local station WBEV/WXRO and the December 12 Days of Giving Campaign, which assigns a basic household item to each of the twelve days.

If you are in need of emergency assistance, call 1-800-775-3785.

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About The Author

Rebecca Gaunt earned a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and a...

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