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The Purple Door safe haven for women and men in Coastal Bend

Inside The Purple Door, a shelter for anyone fleeing domestic violence as well as a place to receive services for women, men, and children. Shown are the commodities room, a common area with sofas, a bedroom, the hallways, the youth room, and a playground. Courtesy photo

The Purple Door had a good reason to change its name from The Women’s Shelter of South Texas. The change came in January 2016 after 40 years of serving the 12-county Coastal Bend area.

“The community had this perception that we are just a shelter and we only serve women, when nothing could be further from the truth,” said Melissa Liskey, development coordinator at The Purple Door.

In reality, the organization includes, along with its shelter for those fleeing domestic violence, free counseling and a host of other services for women, men, and children.

With the name change came a new logo that features a door surrounded by purple, the color of domestic violence, and teal, the color of sexual assault. The logo represents one door closing and another opening, Liskey said.

“We work with men and women to empower them and, also, (the survivor’s) mother, father, and children,” Liskey said. “And, all of our services are free.”

The Purple Door is the only domestic violence shelter in the area to offer such a wide variety of services, which include personal counseling for domestic violence survivors, battering intervention counseling, and therapy groups for batterers. It is also a 24-hour safe shelter.

Also important in violence prevention, The Purple Door offers job referrals, job training, hospital accompaniment for medical exams, and youth services.

The abuse doesn’t have to be recent for people to receive services, either. It could have happened 20 years ago, Liskey said.

Because of the name change and the need to better educate the public about its services to both men and women, The Purple Door enlisted Jackson Katz, Ph.D., as the featured speaker at its annual fundraiser, the Great Expectations Luncheon. The event is 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesday, June 26, at the Congressman Solomon P. Ortiz International Center, 402 Harbor Drive in Corpus Christi.

The process to bring Katz to Corpus Christi took six months, an effort The Purple Door staff said was well worth it.

“Jackson Katz has been speaking our message on issues of gender and race since the early 1990s,” Liskey said. “He says violence is primarily a men’s issue because men do most of the violence.”

Katz is an American author, filmmaker, educator, and cultural theorist who, in 1993, co-founded the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) program at Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society.

The mixed-gender, multiracial MVP program is one of the longest-running and most widely influential sexual assault and relationship abuse prevention programs in high schools, colleges, sports culture, and the military in North America and beyond, according to its website.

“We believe people will listen when he’s up there,” Liskey said. “It’s a perfect time with all that is going on in the country and the #MeToo movement.”

The Great Expectations Luncheon is the only fundraiser held each year for the organization, although The Purple Door also participates in the annual Coastal Bend Day of Giving event managed by the Coastal Bend Community Foundation.

HOW TO HELP

The need for donations and volunteers is ever-present at The Purple Door, which has outreach offices in Kingsville, Beeville, Sinton, and Alice.

“We don’t turn anyone away, and, even if we are at capacity, we’ll pull out cots and move furniture,” Liskey said. “You don’t have to live at the shelter to get services, and we hope people will come back to receive services.”

Volunteers are needed in any area in which services are offered.

“If someone wants to come in and do a spa day with the clients or share a special skill, they can,” Liskey said. “But any job with client contact requires 40 hours of specialized, intensive Office of the Attorney General training.”

Volunteers are needed in the shelter’s donation sorting room, for community outreach, and to accompany clients to the courtroom so they won’t have to face their abuser alone. Volunteers offer peer support, help answer the 24-hour emergency shelter hotline, and assist with criminal justice and youth issues.

The Purple Door served at total 2,164 clients, including children, in 2017, offering 99,441 services. A total of 13,282 calls were received on the crisis hotline.

The Purple Door Shelter Administrative Offices are located at 813 Buford St. in Corpus Christi. Call the office at (361) 884-2900. The number to the Crisis Hotline, which is available 24/7, is (361) 881-8888 or (800) 580-HURT (4878). For more information and to purchase Great Expectations Luncheon tickets, visit purpledoortx.org.

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