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Peoples Bank Partners with Skagit DVSAS to Stop Domestic Violence

October 21, 2019

Ria Van Weerdhuizen, Tina Ruff and Scott Ward

Heidi Roy (right), Skagit DVSAS Executive Director, and Lynda Nelson, Peoples Bank Real Estate Loan Manager, work to provide local domestic violence and sexual assault resources. Photo credit: Matt Benoit

By Matt Benoit for SkagitTalk | SkagitTalk

The physical and emotional scars of domestic violence, sexual assault and rape profoundly alter people’s lives. Sadly, in Skagit County, the rate of domestic violence is 40 percent higher than the statewide average.

That’s why organizations like Skagit DVSAS (Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services) are critical for women, children, seniors and others affected by such issues. Each year since 1979, the non-profit organization has provided crisis intervention, emergency shelter, advocacy-based counseling, and other medical, legal and social support – free-of-charge – for anyone who needs it.

The organization relies heavily on government grants, but also from the community financial support of individuals and local businesses like Peoples Bank, a title sponsor of DVSAS’s annual fundraising gala taking place on Saturday, November 2. It’s the biggest fundraiser the organization has all year, says Lynda Nelson, vice president and loan manager at Peoples Bank Mount Vernon Real Estate Loan Center.

Nelson is also a Skagit DVSAS board member. As someone who survived an abusive childhood, Nelson felt compelled to become part of the organization several years ago. “It’s the type of thing that affects everybody, but especially children, their whole lives,” says Nelson. “I’m still dealing with things. I still see a therapist. Having gone through that and having survived it – having learned that there’s a healthy way to live and talk with others about this subject – I sought them out because I believe in what they do so much.”

In 2016, Nelson and several other Peoples Bank employees undertook a volunteer project, independent of the bank. The employees helped renovate three of the rooms in DVSAS’s 30-day emergency shelter for women and children. They brightened up the space with newer linens, window coverings, lighting, and worked with several thrift stores to obtain newer furniture. A kitchen table was spruced up, and extra toys were provided for the shelter’s child play area. “We took a vanload of stuff over to them,” Nelson recalls.

Since then, Peoples Bank has become directly involved providing financial support of Skagit DVSAS, as well as occasionally providing material donations the organization regularly needs. Heidi Roy, executive director, says their website contains a handy list of items that anyone can consider donating, including clothes, diapers and toiletries. Read More...