By Lena Horn, Outreach Coordinator
June 26, 2014
In 1984, three Loudoun County women came together to form Loudoun Citizens for Social Justice (LCSJ) and do business as Loudoun Abused Women’s Shelter (LAWS) . The private, non-profit organization serves adults and children who are victims of domestic violence and sexual assault by empowering, informing, and advocating for them. All of their services are provided free of charge, including emergency shelter, a 24-hour crisis hotline, legal services from their two full time attorneys, counseling and support groups, various parenting and violence prevention classes, and they operate the Loudoun Child Advocacy Center.
The shelter is a 12-bed house that, in 2013, provided shelter for 36 woman and 47 children. Earlier this year, they received a 100WomenStrong grant to help transform the shelter by providing new beds that are specially designed to last longer and minimize damage. Because housing is expensive in Loudoun County, the shelter is often at capacity, but LAWS doesn’t turn someone down in need and will provide accommodations at a hotel. Other times, clients may not need emergency shelter but still be in need of specialized legal services such as protective orders. In 2013, LAWS provided 524 adult victims of domestic violence with walk-in crisis services, support groups, advocacy, financial assistance, and counseling.
On June 29th 2012, the derecho left millions of homes without power for several days. One of these houses was the Loudoun Abused Women’s Shelter (LAWS). With temperatures reaching well above 90°, no power meant no air-conditioning, running water, lights, or a fridge to keep food from spoiling. Fallen trees blocked roads and the staff couldn’t get out to the shelter to offer fresh food or assistance. Oftentimes, the women and children at the shelter don’t have their own transportation either. A power outage, such as the one the derecho caused, also means that precious time is lost for case management. This prompted LAWS to take matters into their own hands and apply for a grant from 100WomenStrong for an emergency generator. In 2013 the grant was approved and right on time, as the past winter was a harsh one for Loudoun County with several power outages. But this time, the shelter’s new generator jumped into action, powering heat, lights, well-water, and a fridge.
National Children’s Alliance Accreditation
LAWS currently has between 60 and 70 volunteers, including former clients who now seek to give back by donating or even serving on the board. Volunteers receive thirty hours of training in order to help with the wide array of opportunities, such as answering the hot lines, accompanying clients to court, teaching parenting classes, picking up groceries for the shelter, and providing transportation. They also operate a thrift shop called The Resourceful Woman in Leesburg. The thrift shop offers a selection of quality clothing, baby items, toys, books, jewelry, house wares, and light furniture. Clients of LAWS obtain necessary clothing and items free at the shop, and the remaining merchandise is sold and proceeds support LAWS programs.For volunteer opportunities call 703-771-3398.
The 24-hour crisis hotline can be reached at 703-777-6552.
Visit www.lcsj.org for more information.