CASA needs help raising funds to build a new shelter for domestic violence victims

Help women who are trying to help themselves

ST. PETERSBURG - We continue our fourth annual Taking Action Against Domestic Violence campaign.  For the next six weeks we will bring you stories of local resources to help break the cycle of abuse.

Tonight I'm taking you inside CASA's domestic violence shelter to show the desperate need for a new home for survivors of domestic abuse.

"Our shelter was built in 1921," said Linda Osmundson, the Executive Director of CASA.  CASA is an organization that helps victims of domestic abuse.

Despite her love for the old home that has sheltered survivors since 1985, she recognizes the desperate need for help in Pinellas County has outgrown the halls and walls.  "The problem that we're having is we just don't have enough beds."

Six or seven beds are jammed into each bedroom, and as many as eleven women have to share a bathroom.

During the last few years, officials have had to redirect victims to other resources because they are too full too often.

"Last year, we turned away 700 calling here looking for shelter, plus children.  The year before we turned away close to 1,000.  Plus there are some battered women we are unable to serve right now that we'd like to serve better. There are immigrant battered women who are often brought over here by American husbands, who are not allowed by their abusive husband to get a green card and get legal and that's part of the abuse. We can help them become legal, but it takes about a year and we can't keep them here."

Osmundson's goal is to purchase land and build a bigger shelter to meet all the needs. "We're going to have to raise $10 million. We have a committee looking around for a good piece of property."

How can you help? "They can contact us, contact our development director. He can come to meet with them."  

CASA's leader knows it will probably take a few years to make this goal a reality.

If you would like to make a donation or help in another way, like volunteer, you can reach CASA at 727-895-4912 or go to www.casa-stpete.org .

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