ASHA Family Services, Organization for Domestic Abuse Victims, Closed
After nearly three decades of serving survivors of domestic violence, the non-profit ASHA family services has lost funding and is now closed.
ASHA Family Services has been there for nearly three decades but the place many African American depend on is now gone.
The State Department of Child Welfare says it decided to stop funding ASHA Family Services after financial issues.
ASHA says - they didn't get the help they needed from the state to stay open.
"I was hit on the head with poles, had a gun put to my head several times, forced to have sex when I didn't want to," said a victim who wanted to conceal her identify.
It's abuse she says went on for years.
"If I would bring an issue to him, I would either get punched in the face. Or he would take me to the basement, put me on my knees and put a gun to my head. In front of my son. I felt like I didn't have a voice. I felt like I didn't have anyone to talk to. I prayed and I prayed. I knew that wasn't my life, that wasn't my story," said the woman.
She says - ASHA family services gave her that voice.
"When I walked into the doors I immediately felt a sense of relief no one was looking at me like, they can relate to us Black women," said
An accessible low key haven in the Sherman Park neighborhood, an area that's recently seen an increase of racial tension.
The state decided not to renew its contract with ASHA.
A spokesman for Department of Children and Families says the state’s decision was based on ASHA’s ongoing financial issues and inability to show that they were appropriately using state funds as required within their past contracts.
However the move took hundreds of thousands of dollars away from ASHA.
Money they say kept the doors open for nearly 30 years now forcing ASHA to shut its doors. Antonia Drew Vann founded ASHA
Money they say kept the doors open for nearly 30 years now forcing it to shut down. Antonia Drew Vann founded ASHA
"Our services consider history of race relations in Milwaukee and the African American community," said Vann.
Now that ASHA is gone - there aren't any other African American domestic violence organizations left in the state.
The option her clients have now - is Sojourner Family Peace Center.
A sprawling facility with a variety of domestic violence services under one roof, an atmosphere Vann says is intimidating to some in a time of crisis.
"I don't think a one stop shop is going to make it for many in the African American community that's similar to one size fit all services and they don't," said Antonia Vann.
Carmen Pitre, CEO of Sojourner says she completely agrees.
"We tried to do this in a way where we weren’t taking away money from anybody else, because that's not what the works about. Different people need different things. Sojourner is committed to making sure some sort of support moves into that community," said Pitre.
Antonia Vann says - she's not giving up.
In fact is asking the non-profit community, people in Milwaukee and the surrounding areas and anyone connected to the issue of domestic violence for a serious financial commitment for the next project.
Here is the link to the GoFundMe page where you can learn all about it.