BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Across the country, domestic violence and sexual assault are issues that have gained increased attention. In Alabama, the numbers are staggering. In Jefferson County alone, residents were victim to more than 5,000 domestic assaults and 300 rapes in 2016. 19 of those people were killed by their abusers, and according to the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office, 75 percent of instances of domestic violence cases go unreported. To the Junior League of Birmingham, this is simply unacceptable.
At 95 years old and 2,500 members strong, the JLB is one of the largest Junior Leagues in the world. According to their website, The JLB seeks to improve the lives of women and children through original League-owned programs and by working with community agencies to deliver services and assistance to those in need. In 2016, the group gave more than $2.5 million into the Birmingham community through direct financial gifts and the value of volunteer hours.
“If we have learned anything during our past 95 years of service, it is that when the Junior League of Birmingham combines our talents and passions with the collaboration of partners, donors and advocates, we can affect real change in our community,” said Lauren Roberts, President, Junior League of Birmingham.
In that giving spirit, and in honor of the League’s upcoming centennial, the group is committing a minimum of $1.25 million to the One Place Metro Alabama Family Justice Center over the next five years. The One Place Metro Alabama Family Justice Center provides coordinated services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault through a team of agency professionals who work together under one roof. It offers numerous services, including forensic nursing for victims of sexual assault, civil and criminal legal counseling, emergency housing placement, job placement, public benefits assistance and safety planning.
“Family Justice Centers are a multi-disciplinary team of professionals who work together, under one roof, to provide coordinated services to victims of Domestic Violence,” said Brandon Falls, who served as Jefferson County District Attorney from 2008 to 2016. “They are specifically defined in federal law and refer to the co-location of staff members from multiple agencies under one roof. Their mission is to keep victims safe.”
JLB plans to raise the money through various torchbearers, who have committed to raise $10,000 each. After the first 20 fundraisers reach the $10,000 goal, the torch is passed along until the group hits 100 contributors.
“By investing in One Place, the JLB is enhancing the way that victims access existing services in our community,” said Allison Dearing, Executive Director, One Place Metro Alabama Family Justice Center. “We know that, for many whom we serve, the clock is ticking. As we have learned, sometimes it is literally a life or death situation. If a victim or survivor has only one chance to get one place for safety and support, there must be as many necessary resources on hand in one location for support. With this gift, the Junior League is making that possible.”
You can watch the video for the JLB’s Centennial Campaign below.