When Meg Rogers started at Cherokee Family Violence Center (CFVC), the Center was facing tremendous difficulties with funding and providing services for victims of domestic violence. In the past 20 years, under Meg’s direction, CFVC has grown its services to include one of the state’s largest transitional housing programs, along with launching a state-wide, Spanish hotline for victims of domestic violence. After twenty years of leading the Center through expanding from a volunteer-only operation to a staff of over twenty five advocates and a huge expansion of programs, Meg has been at the helm of these changes.
We took this anniversary as a time to sit down with Meg and reflect on the great work CFVC has been able to do in the community for victims of domestic violence in Cherokee County, and to look forward at what the Center can do to expand services for the county.
How was Cherokee Family Violence functioning when you became Executive Director in 1995?
Meg: I initially became involved with the Center by a colleague at my church asking me to serve on the Board of Directors. I was working in Marketing and the Center was run entirely by volunteers, who helped staff the crisis hotline, the emergency shelter, and the state of Georgia was just beginning to have Temporary Protective Orders (TPOs), so we had some legal advocates, including myself. The funding for services for domestic violence at that time was virtually non-existent: this was immediately following passage of the Violence Against Women Act, but there was no road map for how to offer services like transitional housing to victims of domestic violence. Our Board, volunteers and sparse staff of two full-time staff and two part-timers, really had to investigate and figure out how to meet the needs of our community.
What has been your greatest accomplishment during your tenure at CFVC?
I would have to say my two greatest accomplishments have been the Center’s transitional housing program. In the beginning, we saw victims returning to their abusers because they did not have a safe place to go after leaving our shelter program. It was a cycle that we observed repeating itself again and again, so we found a way to meet that need in our community. Our transitional housing program includes 72 apartments that are on-site, so services such as legal advocacy and case management are easily accessible. After residents complete the program, they are eligible for a Housing Choice Voucher, which allows them to get fair market rate housing anywhere in the state of Georgia, with the exception of very few counties.
My other greatest accomplishment has been the development and implementation of our multicultural program. Again, we were seeing a need for multicultural services in Cherokee County, and we felt that to really impact the community, we needed to invest in a program to help victims obtain services such as assisting with immigration paperwork, filing TPOs, or just navigating the legal landscape as a non-native English speaker. We launched our 24-hour, state wide Spanish hotline this time last year, and have secured funding for it for the next two years. We receive calls from across the state from victims who need these services. We have reached clients with a wide variety of cultures, and we have prioritized providing culturally specific services as it is a great need for Cherokee county.
What has been a continual struggle for CFVC?
A great challenge we have faced is providing adequate services for the children in our programs. There are so many factors to consider when it comes to taking care of children’s needs, including basic education, medical needs, therapeutic services as well as assisting parents with moving beyond the cycle of violence. We do a phenomenal job of providing children’s group to those in our program and the community, but it is part of our services that I would like to see grow and flourish to become its own program.
How can those in the community give back to CFVC?
To find out more about our services, visit our website CFVC.org, or call our office at 770.479.1804 for information about outreach, donations or volunteer opportunities. We are so grateful to have such a wonderful, supportive community who has really helped us from the beginning, and we are trying to reach out more to inform the community of who CFVC is and what we do.
Meg previously served on the Georgia Commission on Family Violence where she chaired the Family Violence Intervention Program Certification committee, the Legislative Committee and served on its Executive Committee. She is also the past Chair of the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence, a 42 shelter member organization and past Chair of the Blue Ridge Judicial Domestic Violence Task Force. Meg was a recipient of the 2003 Gender Justice Award of the Georgia Commission on Family Violence.