The Women's Center was established in 1982 by a group of concerned citizens to provide services to domestic violence victims. The group of concerned citizens included Johnny Suggs, Dr. Larry Jablecki, Marie Alvarez Calderon, Elva David, John Boehnke, Vicki Kirby, Mary Ruth Rhodenbaugh, and others.* Their efforts gave us a shelter, an Angleton office, a resale shop, and a volunteer program which has been a life-saver over the years. The resale shop and the office were in the same house, so men came in regularly looking for their wives or girlfriends, thinking we had them hidden under some piles of used clothing. Our auditor, Harry Koester, also remembers that we had some of our important financial papers stored in a bathtub.
In 1985, we expanded our mission statement to include victims of sexual assault because so many of the women-and a few men- with whom we worked were dual victims. We opened offices in Alvin and Pearland. In 1991, we opened 2 more offices, these in Freeport and West Columbia, so today we have 5 offices. We also established our Supervised Visitation Program and our Batterers' Program. The Batterers' Program ceased to exist in 2011 when the state took over the function and we chose not to participate. Our Supervised Visitation Program, however, is alive and well, a real boon to Brazoria County. Very few counties have a Supervised Visitation Program.
In 2002, the Junior Service League held a glittery charity ball, which benefitted us in several ways. To begin with, staff loved having an excuse to try on many, many ball gowns. More importantly, with the money they raised, Habitat for Humanity built us 2 Transitional Living houses. Our Transitional Living houses only accommodate 1 family at a time. In 2003, we opened an additional shelter to accommodate domestic violence victims in the north end of our very large county. We also acquired another Transitional Living house, bringing the total to 3. In 2004, we established our Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner/Sexual Assault Response Team program.
In the summer of 2009, work was completed on our office building in Angleton which houses 1 of our 3 Advocates, Administration, our Supervised Visitation Program, and our Parenting Classes and Workshop. The building was made possible by the spirit of Katie Leathers and the generosity of her family.
Our work is supported by several state grants, the volunteers (angels) who operate our resale shop, and our many friends at United Way and throughout the county. We no longer store important financial documents in the bathtub.