By Mark Thomas, Senior Community Relations Coordinator
Southside Electric Cooperative and banking partner CoBank donated a combined $20,000 in October to support Madeline’s House, a shelter that will serve area victims of domestic violence and sexual assault and their children.
Meeting Oct. 3 at the Cooperative’s headquarters in Crewe, SEC President and CEO Jason Loehr presented matching $10,000 checks to STEPS Inc. President and CEO Sharon Harrup. STEPS will operate Madeline’s House.
The contributions from the Cooperative and CoBank’s Sharing Success program will help STEPS purchase and install a whole house generator to provide a continuous safe environment for residents at Madeline’s House, even during a power outage. After being closed for a year, officials expect the shelter to reopen by the end of 2023.
“We applaud the efforts that STEPS has made to reopen Madeline’s House. SEC is excited to partner with CoBank to help support this initiative that provides such a critical service within Southside Virginia,” Loehr said.
“We are so very grateful for the financial support of SEC and CoBank as we work to reopen Madeline’s House, the regional domestic violence shelter that closed abruptly in November 2022,” Harrup said. “STEPS is honored to have earned the trust and confidence of our local governments, law enforcement, regional support agencies, businesses and colleagues for our stepping into these critically needed domestic violence/sexual assault services. Women and children who find themselves in life-threatening situations should be able to access quality, trauma-informed emergency shelter services, and it is our pledge to see that happen with the reopening of Madeline’s House.”
Madeline’s House will primarily provide 24/7 residential care for domestic violence and sexual assault victims in Amelia, Buckingham, Cumberland, Lunenburg, Nottoway and Prince Edward counties, all also served by SEC. Those counties had 187 calls for help in 2022. A third of those victims were homeless and/or needed relocation; a fourth reported a loss of income and/or financial security.
Through collaborating with other shelters, Madeline’s House will also provide services to domestic violence victims across Virginia.
When the region lost its emergency shelter, STEPS provided transportation and temporary hotel sheltering for victims. This past June, thanks to the benevolence of a local couple, Dr. and Mrs. Ellery Sedgwick, STEPS purchased Madeline’s House. Many in the community volunteered their time and financial support to repair the facility, provide furnishings and raise operating funding.
Besides the support for domestic violence victims, STEPS provides a host of other programs in 10 area counties, including homeless prevention and sheltering, early childhood education through Head Start, services for expectant mothers, efforts assisting people with disabilities find jobs, and help for families to overcome poverty and become self-sufficient.
SEC annually partners with CoBank, a national lender for cooperatives’ major improvement projects, to support community efforts. Since Sharing Success started in 2012, CoBank and its customers have together contributed $76 million to community groups and programs.