House of Hope: Union Pacific Railroad donates $5,000 to combat domestic violence

The Shawnee News-Star
House of Hope

As the clock ran out on 2020, the needs of many across the country continued to grow. One of the impacts of quarantine due to the pandemic was an estimated rise in unreported domestic violence and child abuse cases throughout the year.

Organizations like the Citizen Potawatomi House of Hope, which combats these issues, continued its work despite a host of challenges facing staff and clients. In December 2020, the Union Pacific Railroad Foundation contributed to the House of Hope’s mission with a $5,000 donation.

“Union Pacific’s success is linked to communities where we operate, and we proudly support organizations that improve the quality of life where our employees live and work,” said Ben Jones, Union Pacific's senior director of public affairs for Oklahoma. “Investing in high-quality nonprofits and programs helps achieve our mission of building safe, prosperous and vibrant communities.”

The funds will assist the House of Hope’s work to halt the cycle of violence and abuse in its service areas of eastern central Oklahoma. The program offers clients emergency shelter, court advocacy, legal referrals, emergency transportation and financial assistance. Additionally, House of Hope staff educates clients through parenting classes. For those individuals who cannot receive services, its staff works diligently with partner agencies to find assistance for those seeking help.

“Our tribe is very appreciative of the monetary gift and want UP to know how much it means to the House of Hope,” said Citizen Potawatomi Nation’s Vice-Chairman Linda Capps. “The (House of Hope’s) name is symbolic of the good that takes place in this program. It was vitally important during this time of the coronavirus, as the program is more expensive to operate due to the precautions its staff must take to preserve the health of the women and children it serves.”

The statistics on intimate partner violence were sobering prior to the coronavirus’s outbreak in the United States, but experts believe the pandemic and responses to it may paint a starker picture.

According to report in the December 2020 New England Journal of Medicine, reactions to these new stressors could exacerbate other issues.

"A Pandemic within a Pandemic — Intimate Partner Violence during Covid-19" stated, “Stay-at-home orders intended to protect the public and prevent widespread infection left many (intimate partner violence) victims trapped with their abusers. Domestic-violence hotlines prepared for an increase in demand for services as states enforced these mandates, but many organizations experienced the opposite. In some regions, the number of calls dropped by more than 50 percent. Experts in the field knew that rates of IPV had not decreased, but rather that victims were unable to safely connect with services.”

House of Hope Director Tiffany Barrett agrees.

“We can only express our profound thanks to Union Pacific for their support. It will help us put a lot of people who need assistance on a better path,” she said.

To learn more about the Citizen Potawatomi Nation House of Hope, please call 405-275-3176 or visit cpnhouseofhope.com and facebook.com/cpnhouseofhope.

This story was provided by the CPN Public Information Department.