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Educators group creates learning center for shelter
Gateway Domestic Violence Center staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Shelby Kinsey, volunteer coordinator at Gateway Domestic Violence Center, looks over some of the material available at the recently created learning center for women and children living at Gateway. - photo by Tom Reed

Having a computer is something many people take for granted. For women and children living in a shelter, having a computer can mean a new life.

The Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, Theta Chapter, has helped Gateway Domestic Violence Center with many small projects over the years. But the group of educators wanted to do something more to help the women and families living at the shelter.

"We had a real need of computers. So they found funding and got computers for us to use," said Jessica Butler, executive director of Gateway Domestic Violence Center.

For the last year, the women of Delta Kappa Gamma have worked to fill that need. The group was awarded two grants that totaled $5,000 and contributed $1,000 from their treasury to purchase the new furniture and equipment for Gateway's learning center.

"We are thrilled to death, in the second week of operation we learned that several women from Gateway had already gotten jobs from applying on the computer," said Marie Dawson, Theta Chapter president.

Women and families at Gateway are now able to apply for jobs, look for housing, prepare for the GED and learn English through Rosetta Stone computer software. Butler said having these resources will have a tremendous impact on these families. She said the learning center is in use 24 hours a day.

Once the school year begins, children living in the shelter will be able to use the learning center for homework. The learning center also has three bookshelves for clients to use. Two are filled with children's books. All of the books are donated and are free for the women and children to take with them.

"A lot of kids and women don't have a lot of personal possessions with them. So we thought books were a good thing to contribute," Dawson said.

Gateway offers emergency shelter to families in Hall County who are experiencing abuse. They can provide shelter, resources and support to women and families.

Most of Gateway's clients come to the center for group counseling. Women can learn to heal through art therapy and learn to help themselves in Women Seeking Change and life skills training. Children can attend group therapy classes at the same time as their mothers. All of the classes are offered in English and Spanish.

"We have age appropriate groups that help teach children to express their feelings, and learn about boundaries, safety and a variety of topics," Butler said.

Group sessions are often able to use the learning center for research and education that goes along with the healing process.

Butler said one in four women will experience some form of abuse in her lifetime. Gateway is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help women and families who are being abused physically, sexually or emotionally. Their hotline number is 770-536-5860.

"Anytime someone wants more information for themselves or for a friend they can call our hotline and someone will be there," Butler said.