A small, yellow and green building on Second Street has been a temporary home for victims of domestic and sexual violence for 173 nights in 2020 alone.
North Star Advocacy Center is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to helping victims, regardless of age or gender, every step of the way. It offers free and confidential services, such as crisis management and housing, to anyone who walks through its doors.
To help with costs related to these services, the North Star Advocacy Center launched a new Adopt-a-Client program Oct. 1. This program allows one person, a group or organization to donate money to support the clients at the shelter.
Executive Director Linda Mattson said this helps the center financially support victims by paying for things such as housing or legal fees. She also said that any donation, whether it is money or supplies, impacts a client emotionally.
“If they need something like a toaster, we probably would have a brand new one, so I would bring it to them and say, ‘people can’t know who you are, but they care enough about you that they want you to have this,’ and they would just cry because they didn’t feel worthy and they didn’t deserve things or for people to care about them,” Mattson said.
The advocacy center said that every client on average costs around $1,200 to serve their needs. People can sign up for $100 monthly payments for a year, or a one-time $1,200 payment. Donations can be made through checks, Venmo, PayPal or with cash.
As of now, the program has been presented to multiple student organizations on campus. Emily Nine, North Star Advocacy Center intern, helped with the outreach.
The donated funds will be deposited into the shelter’s general operation fund unless the donor specifies where they want the fund to go. Donors will also be able to get a 50% tax credit if they donate $100 or more.
If someone was not able to do the Adopt-a-Client program, other donations like supplies or smaller amounts of money will still be accepted.
Mattson said being able to adopt someone who is being helped by the shelter helps bridge the gap between them and the public.
“There are people who have lived here their whole life and have no idea that we exist, what we do and how much we help people. So the idea of Adopt-a-Client is trying to fulfill the three pieces: help us with funding, help a client feel valued and spread the word about our services,” Mattson said.
Nine said it’s important to inform people that the center is here to help people when they are in a time of need.
“I just think a lot of people in Maryville don’t know who we are and don’t know who we serve, so education around this is important,” Nine said.
Donors will receive a personal thank-you note from a client that they were able to help financially support with their donation. They will also have a photo of them or their organization put on one of the main walls in the shelter.
“It’s kind of an inspirational wall, so the client can see who is adopting them, and then they can write a thank-you note to somebody who is adopting a client and tell them a little about their story,” Mattson said. “Of course, it’s confidential, but they can tell them whether we helped them go to court or helped them do their first month’s rent deposit. I think the feeling that the clients would have when seeing that wall would be really inspiring to them.”
To sign up for Adopt-a-Client, people can contact Linda Mattson at 660-562-2320 and fill out a form with preferences on payment and where the funds will be allocated.