ABILENE, Texas (KTAB) – Roughly five months ago, the Regional Victim Crisis Center (RVCC) was lamenting after drastic cuts to its budget because of the pandemic. Today, its executive director says finances are strong – a miracle made possible by local generosity.
In December of 2020, the RVCC lost 25% of an annual grant from Taylor County. That cut, paired with other state and federal funding problems linked to the pandemic, dealt the center a sour hand, said Janey Wawerna, executive director of the RVCC, in an interview last December.
“[It] would’ve covered 75 weeks, almost a year and a half of care for a client, and it’s just gone,” said Wawerna.
Wawerna now says the center is back in the black thanks to Abilene-area donors, a feat she hails graciously.
“We are in a strong financial position to continue doing this work, and that is nothing short of a miracle,” said Wawerna in an interview Wednesday afternoon.
RVCC services never stopped during the pandemic, Wawerna notes proudly, and adaptations made in the last year may even be here to stay.
“We never thought one-on-one counseling would be via a computer or screen of some sort,” said Wawerna. “But for some victims it is a very comfortable and productive way to get that care, so in some cases, it will continue.”
The center is as busy as always, says Wawerna. Domestic and family violence cases persist as well as the exploitation of minors locally.
“Last year we had eight bona fide cases that were sexual exploitation of a child,” said Wawerna. “Since the beginning of January, we’ve identified double that number.”
Though disturbing, Wawerna says increased trafficking victims may not indicate a true uptick in the crime itself, but better identification and reporting of victims. She attributes increased awareness of trafficking and abuse warning signs for the increase in victims as well.
“I think it’s the awareness of the community, of law enforcement, and of medical folks that have started identifying those cases on a regular basis”, said Wawerna.
As long as victims are found, Wawerna says the RVCC will be there to support them however it can.
“The reason for our work is heartbreaking, but the reward for our work is priceless,” said Wawerna.
Visit the Regional Victim Crisis Center website by clicking this link here or call it’s 24/7 hotline at 325-677-7895