The Kodiak Women’s Resource and Crisis Center is encouraging locals to attend a community forum on Thursday to address the community’s needs in combating domestic violence, sexual assault and related issues.
The Alaska Department of Public Safety’s Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault will hold its quarterly meeting in Kodiak this Thursday and Friday, along with the community dialogue on issues on Thursday evening.
The CDVSA oversees the state’s efforts to combat domestic violence and sexual assault and promotes legislation and public policy to address these needs.
The council is also responsible for distribution of state and federal funding for domestic violence, sexual assault, crisis intervention and prevention programs in the state. It is a major source of funding for KWRCC.
Each year, the council holds one of its quarterly meetings in a rural location.
“We really want to get out and see what’s happening. Where are the funds that we are giving to communities going? What kind of work do they do?” said CDVSA Executive Director Diane Casto. “Part of the whole goal of this trip is to get to know the community.”
It is the first time the council has met in Kodiak in over five years, she said.
“We want to give people a picture of what we have available and what we’re doing, but then really hearing from the community about what they see the needs are, which can help us frame some of the work that we do in the future,” Casto said.
The KWRCC is asking the public to show up and participate in the community forum in order to foster a dialogue regarding not only domestic violence and sexual assault, but also related issues like substance abuse, homelessness, teen dating violence, elder abuse and crime.
In a letter, KWRCC Executive Director Rebecca Shields also called on service providers, community leaders, Native organizations, faith leaders, teachers and other school employees to show up and share their experiences and ideas.
“I just want people to realize that when we work together we cover a lot of ground, and that if [the KWRCC is] out of the picture, it will have an effect on the whole landscape of Kodiak,” said Beth Davis, KWRCC outreach coordinator.
According to Casto, the council wants to hear about what is going well in Kodiak, but also the community’s problems and challenges.
Grant funding is available through the council for ancillary prevention and victim support services, she said, including educational programs that promote healthy relationships and housing, transportation and jobs services that help victims get back on their feet, she said.
They also welcome feedback on state legislation and policies regarding these issues.
“They do rub shoulders with people who can review the laws and change policy,” Davis said.
The council includes representatives from many state departments, including Public Safety, Law, Health and Social Services, and Education and Early Development.
The community forum will begin at 5:30 p.m. on at the Best Western Kodiak Inn. It will open with an overview of the CDVSA’s role in Alaska, followed by informal dialogue. The event is scheduled to run until 7 p.m., but Casto said there is flexibility to run long if the community desires.
“That’s what we’re hoping is that it will be a real dialogue, and we will stay there as long as people want to talk,” she said.
For those who cannot attend the community forum in Kodiak, there will also be a public comment period at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday during the council’s quarterly meeting. Anyone wishing to address the council during that period can show up to speak in person, or call in at (800) 315-6338, passcode 23872#.
Snoderly can be reached at (907) 512-2624. Follow her on Twitter, @KDMjoann