Domestic violence group to seek crowdsourcing

county_lafayette_green OXFORD – Leaders of an effort to re-establish a temporary shelter in Lafayette County for abused women will turn to one of the latest ways to fund initial costs.

A seven-person board of directors will launch a crowd-sourcing campaign toward the nearly $1,000 cost of applying for 501(c)3 status to become tax exempt.

Jessie McClain, the board’s vice chairman, said a social media fundraiser was being set up on Facebook and Twitter to help raise $1,500 to cover the tax exempt application fee with the IRS. The group is hoping to raise the funds by August 1.

Board chairwoman Krisi Allen added, “We came up with the idea to crowdsource that filing fee, because we can’t seek charitable donations until the application is filed. We’re asking all our friends, acquaintances and friends of friends to help us.”

After clearing the IRS hurdle, the board’s goal is to open within 18 to 24 months a new off-the-radar shelter to accommodate two to four women and their children at a time. The center will memorialize Oxford resident Patricia Edwards Aschoff, now deceased, who was a longtime advocate and activist for domestic violence victims.

“We’re seeing approximately 125 domestic violence calls a year by Oxford Police, Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department and University Police, so that’s 125 women a year who need a safe place to go during a crisis,” McClain said. “The closest place they can go now is either Southaven or Tupelo, and that’s a long way for someone with few resources.”

Lafayette County’s former domestic violence shelter was closed by the state in 2011 due to mismanagement that included failure to pay taxes and to keep its nonprofit registration current.

The new organization has no relation to the old.

“We are an entirely new organization,” Allen said. “In fact, the Secretary of State was hesitant to extend our charity status until they knew we were unrelated.”

Supporters or the curious can follow by email at thepeacenter@gmail.com, on on Facebook at The PEA Center or Twitter @ThePEACenter each of which will offer a donation link. Non-computer users may mail checks payable to the Patricia Edwards Aschoff Center, 1501 West Jackson Ave, PMB 137, Oxford, MS 38655.