WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — The Avalon Center, a Williamsburg nonprofit focused on preventing domestic and sexual violence, is continuing its work to keep people safe during the coronavirus pandemic.
It operates a crisis hotline, an emergency shelter, transitional housing logistics and counseling for victims.
The last few weeks have been especially dangerous for people stuck at home with abusive family members.
The Avalon Center has suspended its non-essential activities to prevent the spread of the new disease, but Leslie Jingluski, the community engagement coordinator, said it’s staying available to answer the calls of those in danger.
"We have a helpline that is super important right now, and everybody can call that 24 hours a day, 7 days a week," said Jingluski. "We have volunteers and we have staff members and advocates that answer those calls."
The center's helpline is 757-258-5051.
The Avalon Center is also reaching out to its community via social media.
In addition to posting daily tips for victims under quarantine, it also launched the "We Respond" challenge, calling on supporters to show how they back the group’s mission.
"People are sitting at home right now, and they want to help, and they can help," Jingluski said. "[It’s] just an awareness campaign to let people know that we're still here, we're still helping out."
The center's Facebook page has more information about the "We Respond" challenge.
During the crisis, Avalon Center is asking for the community’s help - not just in the form of monetary donations, but perishable and non-perishable items.
"We're still running a shelter, so we still have needs that any shelter would need," Jingluski said. "When you donate those things, it helps us from having to send out our volunteers or send out our advocates to the store, increasing risk. We want to keep everybody safe."
Jingluski says the pandemic has only heightened the need for the center’s continued work of equipping and empowering people who may feel trapped in their own homes.
"We're living in a new world right now, and we need to find the problems that are there and the potential issues that are there," Jingluski said. "We're rolling our sleeves up and try[ing] to help."
The Avalon Center and more than 200 other local nonprofits are listed on Hampton Roads' Give Local 757 website, where organizations are asking for support to help get the community through this pandemic.