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Nassau County shelter for family violence victims plans $3M expansion, upgrades

On Thursday, The Safe Center LI held a news conference in which executive director Cindy Scott kicked off a $3 million fundraising program to build a new 15-bed shelter and upgrade the current one with its 17 beds. Credit: Howard Schnapp

More victims of family violence in Nassau County will not have to be uprooted from their communities and schools once a new refuge opens in about a year, officials said Thursday.

Safe Center executive director Cindy Scott kicked off a $3 million fundraising program to build a 15-bed shelter and upgrade the current one, which has 17 beds.

The center is exploring locations for the new site. Such shelters usually do not publicize their addresses.

Two years ago, the Safe Center took in 55 adults and 26 children; another 594 victims had to be housed outside Nassau County, the nonprofit said.

One of its former clients, who preferred to keep her name private, said she hoped to soon resume her career as a hospital administrator — a position she was forced to relinquish the day she learned her abusive husband had begun harming her two daughters.

First, however, she must concentrate on helping her two girls heal.

“The healing process — we might have to live through that for the rest of our lives — but we are going to do it,” she said.

Her older daughter had to be hospitalized; her younger just shut down, she said.

The counseling and many other services the Safe Center provided empowered her. “I look forward to our new future today … I no longer live in abuse,” she said and added: “My kids are acting like normal teenagers. That is a wonderful accomplishment.”

Currently, Nassau County has the state's smallest number of beds per capita for victims of family violence, estimated the Safe Center, the county’s only emergency shelter for people of all ages who have been raped, trafficked or sexually or physically abused.

Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder, noting “many of our battles” against crime can spill over from the streets to homes, defined his officers’ role as “making sure the victim is heard, the victim has a place to go.” 

“We do need these beds … we will put them to good use protecting our victims,” he added.

District Attorney Madeline Singas described herself as happy about the expansion but angry “we are still talking about family violence,” a problem that should be eradicated.

Singas said some of the cases she had prosecuted haunted her.

“It gives us in law enforcement confidence that when a case is over, all of you are here to help pick up the pieces,” she said.

There is a 90-day limit for both the Nassau and Suffolk shelters, officials said.

Suffolk County plans to add three beds, bringing the total to 55 by the end of the year, Derek Poppe, a county executive spokesman, said by email.

Suffolk shelters also offer services to help families get back on their feet, and one Suffolk center will be pet friendly, Poppe said.

Officials at the Safe Center said they accept in-kind donations, from new clothing to toiletries, and cabinets to kitchen sinks. For more information, call 516-465-4748, or go to the center's website at tsclisafehomes.org.

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