and an internal restructuring of programs to enhance mission achievement. The domestic violence, homicide, and rape crisis services were combined into a cohesive Victim Services Program that provided crisis intervention, legal representation, and short-term residential services to people who had experienced sexual assault, intimate partner battering, child maltreatment, or loss of a loved one to homicide. Counseling for sexual assault victims was combined with all other forms of counseling into Clinical Services, providing consistent services across all sites. Economic Independence continued to offer budget counseling, debt repayment plans, reverse mortgage counseling, mortgage foreclosure counseling, and bankruptcy counseling.
United Family Services' commitment to the Children and Family Services Center collaboration was strengthened when six agencies in the building formed a managed service organization called Shared Services. This expanded the collaboration of shared space and technology to include the back office functions of human resources and finance.
The Legal Representation Project expanded to include a full-time attorney and part-time paralegal through a grant provided by the Women's Impact Fund. Local attorneys from multiple firms provided pro bono legal representation for clients. In addition, the attorneys supervised students from the Charlotte School of Law, increasing UFS' capacity to serve additional clients while training the next generation of attorneys in our community.
UFS received a two-year grant totaling $65,078 from Kate B. Reynolds for the community-based counseling program at the Ada Jenkins Center. The grant allowed UFS to serve 200 children and adults who would otherwise be unable to access or afford counseling services. Services were available in both English and Spanish.
The Capital Campaign Steering Committee was formed and began meeting in January. In February, the "silent" phase of the campaign kicked off with staff and board making the initial campaign gifts and pledges totaling more than $265,000. The Building Committee engaged John R. McAdams to begin preliminary site testing in the spring. A land appraisal was completed and UFS entered into a Purchase and Sale Agreement with the Charlotte Rescue Mission to purchase the West Boulevard property. UFS worked with Carolina PR to create collateral campaign materials including a compelling video featuring domestic violence survivors. Jenkins Peer was selected to provide architectural services and RT Dooley/Balfour Beatty committed to provide construction services at cost yielding an estimated savings of $200,000. UFS held two community meetings in the West Boulevard Corridor and received a welcoming response from the neighborhood. Zoning determination was received from the city shortly thereafter. The campaign was announced to the public on Nov. 7 at the UFS 100 year anniversary gala. Later in November, UFS held its first cultivation event for the campaign. At the end of the year, several major gifts were received from the City Housing Trust Fund, Wachovia-Wells Fargo, the Levine Foundation, and Bank of America.
In early 2010, the first draft of the new shelter schematic renderings was completed. These were revised several times and reached the final version by summer. Meanwhile, UFS continued holding cultivation events in homes as well as two larger events that were sponsored by Wachovia-Wells Fargo. By mid-year, UFS received a large gift from the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency, and the campaign surpassed the $5 million mark. The land was purchased in July, and an official groundbreaking was held in conjunction with the Charlotte Rescue Mission in October to celebrate the initiation of site work. In November, UFS held its first legal cultivation event for women attorneys and created the Barrister's Society, a giving circle uniquely designed for attorneys donating to the campaign.
In July, Mark Pierman stepped down as president/CEO of the agency after 10 years of Service. Mark was instrumental in the growth of UFS during the first decade of the 21st century and played a key role in the Shared Services model the agency adopted in 2009 and the launching of the capital campaign for the new shelter. Jean Davis, a member of the Board and on the Executive Committee, resigned her board position to serve as interim president/CEO while a search for the new CEO was conducted. The search was completed in late 2010.
Phil Kline joined the agency Jan. 3, 2011, as president/CEO. The capital campaign continued throughout 2011, and vertical construction began at the end of the year. In spring 2011, the agency implemented an intensive strategic planning process. This work reaffirmed some assumptions and helped crystalize the necessary next steps to build an even stronger organization. United Family Services' depth of experience and professional, evidenced-based treatment and counseling programs for trauma and victim services were determined to become the organization's key focus areas. United Family Services also analyzed its economic independence services and decided that, while these were important, they may be housed more efficiently and effectively elsewhere. United Family Services approached Community Link to consider operating these services, and the transfer was initiated.
United Family Services determined that moving forward the focus would be on providing a continuum of critical crisis services to those victimized by domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, or homicide in Cabarrus, Mecklenburg, South Iredell, and Union counties. It was decided that the agency would continue to offer 24-hour crisis lines, shelter, a children's advocacy center, safety planning services, hospital accompaniment, case management, systems advocacy, support groups, court advocacy/accompaniment, and legal representation. In addition, United Family Services would continue expanding trauma-informed counseling for those struggling with emotional crisis and deliver these services to individuals, couples, and families. The agency also continued to provide educational and prevention programs as well as institutional advocacy efforts.
In 2012, United Family Services continued implementing the strategic plan, and Economic Independence Services was transferred to Community Link in February. The Partners in Parenting Program was transferred to the Children's Home Society in March.
The capital campaign to build the new domestic violence shelter continued, and more than $8.5 million was raised toward the $10.6 million campaign goal. Vertical construction was initiated at the end of December 2011.
On Nov. 27, 2012, United Family Services announced its new brand: Safe Alliance, Where Hope & Healing Begin.
The new Clyde and Ethel Dickson Domestic Violence Shelter opened in January 2013. Safe Alliance continued growing its trauma-based services and also developed a targeted marketing plan to strengthen its Employee Assistance Program and clinical services. The Board of Directors decided to initiate a new giving society to recognize major donors, and the Lotus Society was introduced in August. Safe Alliance also had its first annual luncheon in October with keynote speakers Ron and Jan Kimble.
Two of the agency signature events, Art With Heart and Men for Change, celebrated significant milestones, with both reaching
$1 million raised for Safe Alliance in 2014. The counseling team participated in a number of learning collaboratives, strengthening their skills to offer innovative, evidence-based solutions to adults and children seeking therapeutic services. The rape crisis team changed its name to the Sexual Trauma Resource Center to better describe the myriad of comprehensive crisis and longer-term trauma counseling and advocacy services for adult and child survivors of sexual assault. The domestic violence shelter continued a second year of strong operations in its new facility, and the shelter was paid off in November. At the end of the year, Phil Kline retired from his position as president/CEO of Safe Alliance, and the Board of Directors appointed Karen Parker as the new president effective Jan. 1, 2015.
In 2015, the Safe Alliance Board of Directors and Senior Leadership made a strategic decision to focus on sexual assault and domestic violence services in Mecklenburg County and Lake Norman. Safe Alliance transferred the Tree House Children's Advocacy Center and Sexual Trauma Resource Center in Union County to our sister organization, Turning Point. We transferred our Sexual Trauma Resource Center in Cabarrus County to another sister organization, Esther House. Companies who contracted with us for the Employee Assistance Program were given the opportunity to make a seamless transition to another provider. Safe Alliance identified a comprehensive list of appropriate general counseling options for our departing clients. Major components of the transition were completed by summer 2015.
This decision represented the crystallization of Safe Alliance's mission to provide hope and healing to people in crisis and the evolution of our strategy and direction. We chose to focus on Mecklenburg County and Lake Norman in order to ensure that we are delivering the highest quality services thus yielding the greatest impact for our clients and the community, while maintaining our financial stability for years to come.
2016 was an exciting year for Safe Alliance, one that saw many positive financial outcomes as a result of the changes made in the previous year. We created a capital expenditure report for our Domestic Violence Shelter that will ensure stronger financial planning, and we revised our budget process to provide a clearer and more manageable budget plan. These accomplishments will contribute to a more reliable, stable financial structure for our organization.
We also saw many accomplishments within our programs and services. In summer 2016, we implemented the co-location of staff from Mecklenburg County Community Support Services, strengthening our relationship with an already significant partner agency. This allowed us to maintain and increase clinical services for our shelter clients, as well as provide real-time, client-centered services within our new Community Living Team. We received a transitional housing grant that will allow us to provide transitional services for 20 families through a partnership with Community Link. We were able to expand the Lethality Assessment Program to six municipalities in Mecklenburg County. Our Victim Assistance Court Program office implemented a new screening process, new ways of serving male clients, and began offering appointment options. In our Sexual Trauma Resource Center, we developed a Prison Rape Elimination Act agreement with the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Department. In addition, we moved our Lake Norman office to provide a stronger community presence. During 2016, we also launched a new website, created a Spanish Speaker's Bureau, and increased our social media activity including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
We began making plans for our future, and taking a more visible stance on more community and national issues. In March, we completed the planning process of a new, three-year strategic plan that will take us through fiscal year 2020. The strategic plan priorities are as follows: solidify and invest in existing programs and geographic focus; implement a sustainable financial model with a balanced budget; stabilize and invest in our staff; and position Safe Alliance to be a national leader in client-focused, trauma-informed programming. In addition, we created our first Strategic Plan and Advocacy Guide to highlight these goaI. Internally, we created a task force on dismantling racism to identify areas we could help address this issue in our community. We also expanded our position as a thought leader in the community, creating position statements on sexual violence/rape culture, dismantling racism, and support of LGBTQIA+ survivors.
In 2017, Safe Alliance continued work on our three-year strategic plan, building upon the initiatives launched in 2016. Advancing our commitment to social justice, we crafted a new mission and vision statement that intentionally addressed the intersections between gender-based violence, generational poverty, and institutional racism. We also served as lead agency in a Unite Charlotte-funded initiative to train all board members and staff at the Children and Family Services Center in Race Matter's for Juvenile Justice's Dismantling Racism. Finally, we trained both staff and community partners on the provision of culturally competent services to the Latinx and Asian Pacific Islander communities.
In addition, we advanced several key strategic initiatives. The Victim Assistance Court Program office prepared to launch the electronic filing of civil Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs) and in-office video hearings with judges. To that end, they introduced aggressive outreach and coordination efforts with the Domestic Violence Clerk of Court's office, leading to an 80% increase in the number of victims served. We also initiated planning with CMPD and the 26th Judicial District to create a Family Justice Center and offer multi-disciplinary strangulation prevention training. The Sexual Trauma Resource Center led an effort to create a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART), promising to create a multi-disciplinary, community-wide support system for sexual assault survivors.
The Advancement Team celebrated many successes in 2017, including the 20th Anniversary of the Men For Change event. The A-Team exceeded fundraising goals for three key events, expanded the agency's social media presence to two new platforms, and created new text and mobile donation options for donors. As a result, online giving increased 300%. We also expanded our volunteer program, developing new partnership with corporate and school groups, and growing the number of volunteers trained by 43%.
In 2017, we worked diligently to strengthen our internal capacity as well. We shifted the shelter's facility maintenance to a property management company, improving near-term facility maintenance and ensuring long-term facility management. We piloted a mentorship program to mentor high-potential employees. Finally, we again closed the year on strong financial footing.
Safe Alliance secured over $1 million in new funding from the Governor's Crime Commission and The Duke Endowment and increased staff from 75 to 90+. The agency also continued strengthening our partnership with Bank of America and was awarded a $250,000 grant from Bank of America and Albemarle to support our economic mobility work. We also restructured our advancement department and implemented a new development plan resulting in enhanced community engagement and investment in the organization. As a result of this resource development, Safe Alliance served 7,000 people and reached an additional 6,000 through education, prevention, and institutional advocacy in FY18 and was able to implement and expand the initiatives highlighted below.
In 2018, Safe Alliance launched the Greater Charlotte Hope Line, our new domestic violence, sexual assault, and child welfare hotline in collaboration with the Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services. This hotline provides a single source for crisis intervention services as well as support and prevention programming. Safe Alliance also took a major leadership role in Family Justice Center efforts by providing staffing with support from the Jamie Kimble Foundation for Courage and chairing the community Steering Committee. Safe Alliance partnered with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, Novant, and Atrium, to implement a county-wide training/protocol development on strangulation in domestic violence. In addition, Safe Alliance expanded rapid rehousing and mobile advocacy services for domestic violence victims through partnerships with Mecklenburg County Community Support Services, Community Link, and The Salvation Army.
Safe Alliance continued solidifying voluntary, client-centered services and trained staff in the CARE model and motivational interviewing. We initiated respite childcare services and a Resident Council at the shelter in order to engage more people with lived experience in our decision making. We engaged Positive One to provide mentoring to children and youth at our shelter. Our Victim Assistance Court Program moved to a more client-friendly location, and we expanded our Legal Representation project by training 33% more pro bono attorneys (total of nearly 90). Our Sexual Trauma Resource Center saw a significant increase in requests for assistance (many inspired by the #MeToo movement). Through training and protocol development, Safe Alliance strengthened our response to underserved survivors including male victims, the LGBTQIA+ community, and the Latin American community, trafficking survivors and those with mental illness.
Safe Alliance also strengthened racial equity efforts completing two-day training for more than 80 staff and board members and forming an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Committee to ensure we apply a racial equity lens to our daily work. We also bolstered efforts to support undocumented survivors including media statements, public appearances, and specialized training for staff. Men For Change was transformed from an annual event to a year-round campaign for men working to end violence against women.
Our work this year resulted in important steps to achieve our vision of communities where people are empowered to build and sustain healthy and respectful relationships and in which we, together, actively work against the systems and beliefs that sustain poverty, racism, and gender-based violence.
Safe Alliance's accomplishments in 2019 include the following:
Launched eFiling, which allows victims to apply for protective orders electronically from our trauma-informed location.
Continued our transitional housing and supportive services and created new partnerships with Habitat for Humanity and the Steve Smith Family Foundation with the goal of educating and helping shelter residents achieve home ownership.
Made great strides in our work toward developing community collaboration and protocols through the Mecklenburg County Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) and hired a SART Coordinator.
Provided leadership team training on Leading for Diversity and implemented a Leaders of Color Coaching Program.
Sponsored two very important community racial equity trainings: the Race Matters for Juvenile Justice Biannual Conference and the Mecklenburg Executive Collaborative Diversity Training.
Led community efforts to create the Phase 1 Family Justice Center (FJC), identifying funding and space and beginning to create MOU's, usage agreements, and operating procedures.
Continued efforts to create the permanent FJC, including extensive research and development of a draft business plan, initiating the VOICES survivor group, and leading statewide advocacy efforts to ensure state and federal funds continue to be directed to new and developing FJCs.
Sent our first cohort of children to Camp HOPE and facilitated children's support services at our Victim Assistance Court Program.
Increased sexual assault hotline response by 72% compared to the previous fiscal year.
Through the implementation of the Greater Charlotte Hope Line and continued community outreach, the Lake Norman office increased counseling services by 16% and advocacy by 23%.
Created DV in the Workplace Toolkit and promoted it on our website and through individual trainings.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Safe Alliance pivoted operations successfully opening a second residential (hotel) facility; shifting selected positions to remote/virtual services; partnering with Mecklenburg County and the City of Charlotte on hotels and the Safe Week program; building and implementing a phased reopening plan for all programs; expanding family law support; and maintaining strong media presence/communications throughout the pandemic.
Safe Alliance continued moving forward with Family Justice Center (FJC) efforts creating the FJC Foundation and electing the first board of directors; initiating a property search; meeting with potential major gift corporate and foundation funders to prepare for future campaign asks; and completing branding efforts with high focus on survivor feedback, landing on the name The Umbrella Center.
Safe Alliance also continued leading efforts to launch the Survivor Resource Center, which opened February 2021 by creating policies and procedures; initiating a racial equity framework; and securing $1 million grant from the Governor's Crime Commission for the center.
In 2020, Safe Alliance expanded racial equity efforts becoming an official RMJJ Community Partner; beginning efforts to implement process change; and creating People of Color Processing and White Affinity groups.
During 2020 Safe Alliance also supported United Way by providing case management to Lake Arbor clients who were facing eviction; implemented successful events including Art with Heart, Men for Change and Young Professionals Network, Walk a Mile in Her Shoes®, and the annual breakfast/Hope Is Calling campaign; and partnered with Mecklenburg County on the Meck Better Together campaign, seeing a 200% increase in caregiver support calls.
In an emergency please dial 911
Call the Greater Charlotte Hope Line 24/7 for info on parenting, domestic violence and sexual assault 980.771.4673.