Chris Collins
The Baker City Herald

The Mary Kay Foundation has awarded a $20,000 shelter grant to MayDay Inc., Baker County’s family violence and domestic assault prevention program.

The money will be used to make improvements at the MayDay safe house, said Cassie Martin, the organization’s executive director.

Martin said MayDay will purchase new appliances, including washers and dryers and new freezers for the food bank, and a new security system.

“It’s going to be quite a blessing to get those things for the safe house,” Martin said. “So that when people are in here they’ll have everything they need in good working order.”

The Mary Kay Foundation grant will be presented during a ceremony scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1, at the MayDay office at 2601 Oak St. Those planning to attend are asked to RSVP by calling 541-523-9472.

MayDay was selected for the grant from more than 1,000 domestic violence shelters from across the country that applied for the funding, a press release stated. The Foundation awarded $3 million nationwide.

Martin, 52, who began working at MayDay as an advocate in July 2016, was hired as executive director in June 2018 after Milli Joseph resigned from the position. Martin applied for the grant just 10 days before the application was due. She said she was a little apprehensive writing her first grant. But she knew she’d have no chance to win the grant if she didn’t at least try, and so she did and was pleasantly surprised when MayDay received the funding.

Martin is assisted in her work by Jane Chandler, a co-located advocate who spends morning hours at her office in the Department of Human Services building on 10th Street and afternoons at the MayDay office. Angela Dorman works at the front desk at MayDay where she coordinates volunteers, donations and fundraisers, Martin said.

Chandler and Dorman, who both work full time at MayDay, joined the program this summer.

“They are doing some quite amazing things for our victims,” Martin said.

In addition to her role as executive director, Martin also serves as an advocate.

“I love everything about being an advocate,” Martin said.

The Mary Kay grant is a welcome addition to the state and federal grants that MayDay expects to receive over the next two years. Local fundraisers also brought in nearly $7,000 in 2018, which are leveraged as matching funds in applying for those grants, Martin said. The end-of-the-year newsletter appeal raised more than $4,700 and the annual “Strike Out Abuse” cosmic bowling fundraiser at Elkhorn Lanes netted $2,100 for the program.

The advocates have been kept busy, not necessarily because of an increase in family violence, but also because of the job MayDay has done educating the community about the issues and working with police and other partners, Martin said.

“Our community partnership is really tight and works really well,” she said, noting how various agencies work together to help victims and survivors.

“Now people know there is a safe place to come to and we will help them through their event,” she said.

Martin says she has seen an increase in sexual assaults and fewer victims who are willing to report the crimes to police.

MayDay works to get victims to the hospital where a rape kit is used to collect sexual assault evidence that would allow the victims to come forward later if they change their minds, Martin said.

“We’ve had more and more rape cases in the last year,” she said, attributing that statistic to the increase of “date rape” drugs coming into the community.

The prevalence of methamphetamine use in the community and an increase in the number of people who are homeless or who “couch surf” for a place to stay from one day to the next also has led to the increase, Martin believes.

“People are expected to exchange sexual favors for a place to stay and a roof over their heads,” she said.

The MayDay safe home was filled with 10 adults and 12 children during November.

“It was packed full,” Martin said.

See more in the Jan. 25, 2019, issue of the Baker City Herald.