Terri Densman, executive director of The ARK Domestic Violence Shelter, had an observation about the nine members of the Heartland Cruisers car club who had parked their classic cars outside the Ark offices Thursday morning.
They’re a fun group, Densman said as the car club members posed for photos and talked with Densman and members of her staff.
The car club members were there to present The ARK with a $1,000 check, which represents proceeds mostly generated by the silent auction at the June car show and poker run.
Each year the club picks a charity for a donation, and this year club members picked The ARK. Previous recipients have included the Pregnancy Care Center, the Boys & Girls Club, Good Samaritan Ministries and the Corinne T. Smith Animal Center.
“It means a lot, because our grants are restricted, so when the community comes together and gives us funds, then we can use those funds for things the grants won’t pay for,” Densman said of the donation. “Like new flooring, paint, those kind of things.
Donations also help with items including clothing, dishes and good used furniture for clients.
The ARK offices are at 2900 Coggin Ave., separate from the shelter which typically has about 15 residents staying there. With a staff of 16, The ARK takes in victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault.
“We can’t give our victims gas cards, and sometimes that’s really what they need, because they fled with nothing, Densman said. “And so we can give them gas cards to help them get to their appointments, trying to find a job. Trying to get medical help, that kind of stuff.”
Clients are initially given a length-of-stay of 45 days. “During that 45 days we updating service plans weekly to find out, what do they need?” Densman said. “If they’re working and they’re trying to get their feet back under them, we can extend the length of stay. It’s hard to get them in housing. Sometimes they have to stay longer to get on the HUD waiting list.”
Densman, who has been The ARK’s executive director for six years, previously worked as a CPS investigator in Brownwood.
Densman said she took The ARK job because she saw the need. “I knew The ARK is a vital organization in our community and I wanted to see it succeed and grow,” Densman said. “And I believe we’ve accomplished that. We’ve still got a ways to go, though.”
The staff is preparing for projects as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October, which will include a candlelight vigil. “During that month, that’s where we honor victims who have lost their lives due to domestic violence.
Preparations are also being made for The ARK’s February fundraiser, the Mystery Dinner Theatre.
Speaking once more about the donation she’d just accepted from the Heartland Cruisers, Densman said, “They’re fun. Those were a great group. I always look forward to meeting them and seeing their cars.”