Julian Center reopening counseling facility

The Julian Center is reopening the counseling facility it closed last year in the wake of a budget shortfall, ultimately concluding that it’s a valuable extension of services for victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse.

Now dubbed the Sara and Albert Reuben Empowerment and Counseling Center— “empowerment” was added during the downtime—the facility at 2011 N. Meridian St. will allow the state’s largest domestic violence shelter to offer clients more individualized attention, said CEO Catherine O’Connor.

“These services are available, but they’re scattered around,” said O’Connor, who was hired in February. “Hopefully it will all get us to the end game: stopping the cycle of violence.”

The Reuben Center will provide a single location for clients to access case managers, counselors, legal services—including a protective order clinic beginning next month—plus assorted self-sufficiency programs. They’ll be guided through the options by their own personal advocates.

O’Connor also is hoping the center serves as a collaboration hub, drawing other service providers. Sharing resources could result in efficiencies, she said, and might help make the business case for such mission-based programs.

Officials expect the Reuben Center to cost about $1.1 million per year to operate—about a quarter of the organization’s annual budget. Julian Center has applied for grants to cover almost 60 percent of the expense, but O’Connor said public support will be crucial.

“This is a recommitment to that work, a realization of how important it is,” she said. “But it’s very important for folks to know this doesn’t operate on goodwill. It will continue to be critical for the community to buy into our work.”

The demand is clear: Julian Center’s emergency shelter has been operating at or above capacity since last July. More than 6,150 women and children received services last year.

The counseling center had about 179 clients on the books before its October closure; only about 20 were also receiving emergency shelter or transitional housing assistance. Last month, Julian Center provided counseling services to 98 individuals in its housing programs.

An annual audit is still in the works, but preliminary results show Julian Center’s revenue fell short of expenses by about $100,000 in 2013. O’Connor acknowledged the counseling center closure likely did not help fundraising efforts.

“Our budget is very lean,” she said.

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