CAV to receive Santa Fe Community Foundation Piñon Award

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Community Against Violence is excited to share the news that we are being awarded a 2017 Piñon Award from the Santa Fe Community Foundation.

Each year, the Piñon Awards celebrate and recognize the work of outstanding nonprofits serving Northern New Mexico, including Taos County. Piñon Award winners are nominated by community members and then selected by committee. This year, CAV will receive the "Tried & True" award at the Piñon Award ceremony on Oct. 10 - just two days before the annual CAV Radiothon on KTAO-FM 101.9. The Tried & True award "honors an organization that is known for consistent high-quality programming, despite changes in the external environment."

CAV has been working to create a community free from all forms of domestic and sexual violence for nearly 40 years. In 1978, in response to domestic violence-related murders and sexual assaults in Taos County, two different groups of community members came together and started separate volunteer organizations, the Battered Women's Project and Community Against Rape. They offered emergency shelter in volunteers' own homes, provided 24-hour crisis response and worked hard to raise community awareness. They joined together in 1980 and eventually became Community Against Violence.

Over the years, CAV has grown from a tiny organization with no permanent home to an established one with more than 44 employees and a wide variety of high-quality programs. Awareness of domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault has increased tremendously since 1978. Like other well-functioning nonprofits, CAV is always evolving in response to survivor needs and new knowledge on what actually helps people. CAV begins with the assumption that people who have experienced trauma are experts on their own situations and needs. We provide safety, information and support so that each person can make positive choices for themselves and their families.

CAV serves steadily growing numbers of clients. We believe this is because our outreach and awareness efforts have made it more likely that people will report and seek help when needed, not that domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse are increasing. (National studies show that victims of domestic violence are more likely to seek help earlier, preventing many more serious injuries and murders.) We also put resources into training staff and keeping up with the latest research so our programs can be improved and expanded to best help the community.

The organization's crisis hotline, (575) 758-9888, is staffed 24/7. Last year, it handled more than 3,000 calls. Our advocates provided services to more than 800 adults and children. CAV provided shelter to 97 adults and 48 children. Our transitional housing program provided housing to 13 families that fled domestic violence/sexual assault and were ready to establish their own safe home.

The Northern New Mexico Children's Advocacy Center is also a CAV program. The advocacy center has specially trained interviewers and advocates who help respond to suspected abuse and neglect of children and vulnerable adults or elders in the northern pueblos and in seven counties in the northern and central portion of New Mexico. In the last fiscal year (2016-17), interviewers conducted 243 forensic interviews, a 27 percent increase over the previous fiscal year. CAC interviewers are often called to testify in court in criminal cases or protective services proceedings to protect children and vulnerable adults.

CAV is proud and grateful to be receiving the Santa Fe Community Foundation Piñon "Tried and True" award. But without the strong support of our communities, CAV would not have been recognized as an excellent nonprofit. We thank you all for supporting and working with us for 40 years!

Williams is the executive director of Community Against Violence, Inc. (CAV), which offers free, confidential support and assistance for adult and child survivors of sexual and domestic violence, dating violence and stalking; community and school violence prevention programs; re-education BIP groups for domestic violence offenders; counseling; shelter; transitional housing; and community thrift store. To talk with someone or get information on services available, call CAV's 24-hour crisis line at (575) 758-9888 or visit TaosCAV.org.

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