Women’s center teams with police
by Denise Ellen Rizzo
Jul 26, 2013 | 4286 views | 0 0 comments | 64 64 recommendations | email to a friend | print
New site for Women's Center
Joelle Gomez (left), chief executive officer of the countywide Women’s Center-Youth & Family Services, and Tracy Chief of Police Gary Hampton cut a ribbon dedicating the center’s satellite office on July 18, joined by other city and county dignitaries. The office opened May 1 in the Tracy Police Annex, 400 E. 10th St.  Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
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The Tracy Police Department has expanded its partnership with the Women’s Center-Youth and Family Services by welcoming the organization into the department annex at 400 E. 10th St.

On July 18, center officials and other dignitaries gathered for a ribbon cutting ceremony at the annex office space.

According to women’s center CEO Joelle Gomez, sharing space with the police department allows easier access to the people victimized by domestic violence and sexual assault.

"This collaboration will really help us provide a greater level of service (to victims)," Gomez said. "We work so closely with law enforcement, and this streamlines that approach and partnership. Now we can get to the victims faster and more efficiently."

The office opened May 1, ensuring that the countywide Women’s Center-YFS could continue its Tracy programs without interruption after moving April 30 from an office at Healthy Connections Resource Center, 35 E. 10th St., according to Gomez.

Gomez described the opening as a "milestone" as she addressed a gathering of about 50 people outside the annex.

"We’re grateful and excited about our new home within the Tracy Police Department annex," she said. "For every one person aware of our services, there’s probably hundreds more who don’t know."

Moving into the annex also helps the center save rent money. Tracy Police Department officials have offered the space free of charge in exchange for the Women’s Center’s cooperation with Tracy officers and local victims.

The annex houses the police department’s detectives bureau.

Police Chief Gary Hampton described the partnership with the center as a privilege and an honor.

"Domestic violence is not decreasing, it’s increasing (in Tracy)," he said. "We won’t rest in this police department until we see no domestic violence crimes."

Hampton said the department welcomes the center.

"Let me reassure her (Gomez) that the rent will remain cheap and the porch light will always be lit as a beacon leading her staff back to this location, which will always be their home as long as they need it," he said.

Also in the works for the center is the opening of a new Tracy shelter for women and children, replacing the shelter that closed on Feb. 27 due to the site being in disrepair.

Gomez said the center is looking to purchase a house in Tracy capable of sheltering 20 women and children, which is significantly larger than the former Tree House Shelter that housed only eight.

Gomez said the center received $100,000 from Sutter Tracy Community Hospital and two grants from the city of Tracy’s HOME fund totaling $518,000.

"Our goal is to have something purchased and operational by Oct. 1," she said.

Victoria Flores, domestic violence coordinator for the Tracy office, said the office will be used to meet with victims of domestic violence and sexual assault and provide them information about supportive, educational and crisis intervention services.

In addition to counseling, representatives of the center provide shelter referrals, help individuals fill out restraining orders and accompany victims to court hearings.

During the 2011-12 fiscal year, center officials helped 134 people in Tracy through a help line, provided 797 victims with individual and group counseling services and assisted 57 people with temporary restraining orders and court appearances, according to Gomez.

Nearly 800 local residents benefited from educational programs on the prevalence of domestic violence and sexual assault during that same time.

Women’s Center of San Joaquin County merged with Family and Youth Services on July 1, 2012, forming the Women’s Center-YFS, according to Gomez. The joint organization also serves runaway and homeless youth.

The center is open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday. For information: 833-0300.

Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or drizzo@tracypress.com.

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