Emergency shelter welcomes new director
The Akeley Regional Community Center (ARCC) emergency shelter recently hired an executive director who is working hard to get the facility ready to open.
Allison Forte is from Bemidji and has a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice.
“I have worked in the domestic violence field for over eight years,” she said. “I worked as an advocate at a domestic violence agency providing safe shelter and advocacy to victims of domestic violence before transitioning into administration.”
Forte said she believes that safety is a basic human right.
“How services are provided to those experiencing domestic violence is very important to me,” she said. “From my previous experience, I am aware that domestic violence occurs at a high rate in our area, as in most areas, and it is necessary to have support available in all areas when those experiencing violence are ready to reach out.
“I know that domestic violence shelters are often full and another shelter in the state of Minnesota is much needed. Also, the nearest shelters in the area are 45 minutes away. To be able to contribute to increased support for those experiencing domestic violence in northern Minnesota is something I am passionate about.”
Forte said she is very excited to be working with a supportive board of directors and committee at the ARCC to get the emergency shelter open.
“We will offer safe shelter, food and clothing along with access to wrap-around services in our partnership with Family Safety Network,” she said. “Shelter residents will be able to receive criminal justice support, housing support, attend support groups, partake in children’s activities, and receive access to mental health services if they so choose.
“The ARCC emergency shelter will also provide thorough training for staff along with continued training throughout their time of employment. Residents will identify their goals and we will walk alongside them while they begin to heal from their trauma.”
“The board, committee and I are all working hard to ensure the opening and sustainability of the shelter,” she said. “We will keep updating our communities as we continue making progress.”
Forte said the biggest need victims of domestic violence have is to be believed.
“Believe victims when they are talking about their experience without victim blaming,” she said. “So many times, victims end up not reaching out for fear of not being believed, fear of being judged or being told it is their fault.
“Access to services is just as important. Those experiencing intimate partner violence need services in their community that are easily accessible and inclusive. Safe shelter that is welcoming is also important. Staff specifically trained to offer nonjudgmental domestic violence support is just as important. All needs related to their crisis are important components when looking at the bigger picture.”
Forte said while it is not a comfortable subject to talk about, domestic violence must be talked about.
“Communities must take a stand and not allow domestic violence in their community while also supporting those experiencing abuse,” she said. “We all must educate ourselves on the signs of domestic violence as we all are in this together: victim service providers, community partners, family members and friends.”
Volunteers and donations are needed to get the shelter ready to open.
“We are currently in need of drywallers and other volunteers to assist with renovations, kitchen supplies, new children’s toys and operational funding,” Forte said.
They also have a wish list and upcoming events on their website at www.arcc-emergencyshelter.com/donate, or call 218-652-2600 for more information.