Columbia, Missouri is located in the middle of the “show me state” between the cities of St. Louis and Kansas City. The population is approximately 85,000 people. The University of Missouri was founded in 1839 as the first public university west of the Mississippi River and the first state university in Thomas Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase territory. It represents both a major land-grant institution and Missouri’s largest public research university. Today MU has a student population of over 22,000 and is Columbia’s largest employer. It has been frequently ranked as a top place to live, best place to raise a family, and great community to which to retire. The religious landscape of this region is overwhelmingly Christian, with Columbia hosting over 300 churches of varying Christian denominations. Additionally, Columbia is home to the Islamic Center of Central Missouri, Hillel Foundation, Congregation Beth Shalom, and the Hindu Temple and Community Center of Mid-Missouri.
The RAVE Columbia site team is headed up by Kendra Yoder, MSW/LCSW and Dr. Mary Jo Neitz. For more information on Kendra, click here. Dr. Mary Jo Neitz is a Sociologist and full professor in the Women’s and Gender Studies Department at the University of Missouri. Her areas of research include gender and religion, sociology of culture, qualitative methodologies and feminist theories.
Each of the organizations highlighted below are actively collaborating with the RAVE project to provide information and stories from the Heartland Region.
The Shelter for Victims of Domestic and Sexual Abuse, also known as Comprehensive Human Resources, provides services designed to empower women who have been battered or abused by an intimate partner, enabling the victim to begin the healing process and work towards regaining control of her life. Please visit the Shelter’s website for more detail about their comprehensive services including: • Shelter and Nonresident Program • The Circle House • Community Education and Outreach Prevention Programming • The Shelter Counseling Program • Batterer’s Intervention Program • Continued Sexual Assault Program Expansion The shelter has been an active agent in working with church leaders to address the specific needs of abused religious women, as well as helping develop education and intervention resources and programming through such innovative programming as the TREE initiative.
This is what Kelley Lucero, Shelter Outreach Coordinator and RAVE partner, has to say about the role that churches can play in assisting and education people about domestic violence:
Teen Relationship Education and Empowerment: A Faith Based Health Initiative Against Violence (TREE) is funded by the Missouri Foundation for Health to create a coalition of local congregations to address youth relationship violence within neighboring churches in Boone County. TREE is an initiative focused on developing and strengthening local congregational resources to address teen dating violence.
TREE Programmatic Goals:
Recruit 10+ congregations to participate in TREE program each year;
Assist congregational teams (clergy, lay leader, youth representatives) in developing sustainable, innovative programming for their youth groups;
Host a Saturday workshop for all participating congregational team members that provides resources, training, programming examples, brainstorming sessions, and networking opportunities;
Provide support and resources to implement programs by October, 2009;
Create and sustain a coalition of local congregations and health providers that offers on-going training development, programmatic assistance, and networking;
Make accessible congregational programs and curriculums to both local and global audiences (publications, newsletters, RAVE website).
The Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention (RSVP) Center, provides outreach programs for interested university and community groups. The RSVP Center maintains a resource library on sexual and relationship violence and is a leader in connecting campus and community efforts to provide current education on domestic and sexual violence http://www.studentlife.missouri.edu/rsvp
The Boone County Victim Response Team is an important part of the Boone County Prosecutor’s Office and advocates in this office provide emotional support, legal and judicial explanation, and referrals to the proper local agencies for crime victims and their families. The philosophy of the Victim Response Team is that victims (and witnesses) of crime should be treated with dignity, compassion, and respect in the aftermath of crime. Victims should be informed of the criminal justice system’s response to the crime and its handling of the offender. http://www.showmeboone.com/pa/VictimServices.asp