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Turningpoint returns to New Richmond

Victims of domestic and sexual violence once again have access to safety and support services in New Richmond thanks to Turningpoint for Victims of Domestic and Sexual Violence, a non-profit crisis shelter and resource center headquartered in River Falls.

Turningpoint returns to New Richmond after a nine year absence. The organization had to close its New Richmond office back in 2007 after a freeze of state grant money and decline in donations forced the organization to cut staff and consolidate its resources at its River Falls location.

“Folks assumed we weren’t there for them because our physical location was not only in another community but in another county altogether,” said Turningpoint Executive Director Alena Taylor.

“It took us a while to figure out a funding source that would be viable and sustainable. Once some of the state money was restored through the Department of Children and Families budget, we knew we had to reopen that office to provide better access to our services for folks in New Richmond, Hudson and Baldwin. We’ve always had a responsibility to serve St. Croix County,” said Taylor.  

Taylor points to another important reason for reestablishing Turningpoint’s presence in St. Croix County, preventative education. Taylor recognizes that to have a realistic chance of ending domestic and sexual violence, education is essential. Once again having a physical presence in the county makes accessing that education easier for everyone.

Turningpoint provides outreach programs to schools and local businesses aimed at employees and customers.

“The fact that one in three women will experience domestic violence, that tells us that we need to be everywhere. The more sites we have available to people, the more likely people are to get help and find safety for themselves and their family,” said Taylor.

From their River Falls location, Turningpoint is responsible for serving all of Pierce and St. Croix counties.

Turningpoint provides a number of services including a crisis shelter, sexual assault crisis support, 24-hour hotline and text hotline, safety planning, individual advocacy, support groups for victims and survivors of domestic and sexual violence, legal system advocacy, and prevention education programs.

State funding is made available to Turningpoint in two ways. Basic service grants from the Department of Children and Families, which supports the shelter facility, and outreach funding, which pays for education and additional access efforts.  

Since the 2007 ordeal, Turningpoint as an organization has become stronger financially and less dependent on outside funding sources like the state.

“We wanted to make sure that we had the ability to sustain the New Richmond office even if funding fluctuated in terms of what was coming to us from Children and Families,” said Taylor.

The establishment of the Second Chances Thrift Store has provided revenue to the operation as well as jobs and training for clients. In addition, it provides homegoods, clothing and other products to clients and their families free of charge to help them reestablish a home.

“It allows us to give items to survivors and their families that they are going without or that they desperately need to be able to establish a new living arrangement. We’re very lucky to have something like that that the community supports” said Taylor.

New Richmond makes sense as a second location because of its proximity to economic support and all of the ancillary services available through the St. Croix County Department of Health and Human Services located on Dorset Lane. Programs like child protection or the supplemental nutrition program, WIC (Women, Infants and Children), often share an overlap with clients using services provided by Turningpoint, making New Richmond a logical location. Communal access cuts down on transportation costs and encourages clients to access multiple services in a single visit.  

“Most county services are now happening out of New Richmond. So it made sense for us to be more accessible in that location. Plus New Richmond is centrally located in St. Croix County so folks in Hudson, Baldwin, Glenwood City, Roberts, and Hammond can get to us a little easier in New Richmond versus if we were on one side of the county or the other,” said Taylor.

Although the need for the kinds of services Turningpoint provides is well established, quantifying it can be difficult. The rural nature of most of the communities in which victims live, the priority placed on protecting their identities, and the extent to which they take advantage of the various services all make literal counting challenging.

“If all a caller is looking for is emotional support, we don’t have a real reason to know which community they’re coming from. If they don’t need us to meet them somewhere or they don’t need to go through a legal process or housing or things like that, we don’t necessarily know where they are coming from. But I can tell you, last year we served 745 individuals, and that was split about evenly between Pierce and St. Croix counties,” explained Taylor.

What alarmed Taylor about that statistic was, Pierce County has about half the population of St. Croix County. She would expect, just given the population, that there would be twice as many individuals seeking services in St. Croix County. She attributes that discrepancy to not having a physical presence in St. Croix County until now.

“We know the victims are there. We feel like there are quite a few more people in St. Croix County that absolutely need our services, they just are unaware of them or cannot get to them. That is our goal with our new office in New Richmond, to be more visible physically and be more available as far as information out there in the county. We want people to know we are available 24-hours a day and that we provide our services free of charge,” said Taylor.

The 24-hour crisis hotline is 800-345-5104.

The 24-hour text hotline is 715-821-8626.

The local phone is 715-425-6751.

The New Richmond office is located at 337 East Fifth St. adjacent to The Centre. Guests are encouraged to use The Centre’s parking lot.

The New Richmond service center walk-in hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday - Friday. Advocates are also available to meet clients in New Richmond at other times by appointment. To schedule an appointment, call 800-345-5104 or text 715-821-8626.

To reach the Second Chances Thrift Store call 715-426-5463.

Besides Turningpoint, there are not a lot of other organizations available to victims of abuse in either Pierce or St. Croix counties. A lack of other resources, apartments, landlords, and cheap cars all make combating abuse even more challenging.

“New Richmond has absolutely welcomed us with open arms. We’ve received nothing but support and kindness from the whole community and the businesses that are starting to hear about us. We’re in a great place and I’m excited to get more involved and become more familiar with some of the businesses and organizations in New Richmond. It’s a pretty tough go of it if someone is trying to rebuild their life. We feel like they’ll have better odds if we can walk that path with them.”