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After more than a decade of collaborating to serve the needs of women and families, the Women's Center and the Family Violence Prevention Center of Orange County decided to merge, becoming the Compass Center for Women and Families.
"The name Compass Center for Women and Families connotes an organization that helps people find direction in their lives," says Ann Gerhardt, executive director of the Women's Center. "It reflects our collective work to create opportunities for individuals to change the direction of their lives through a variety of paths."
The Compass Center, which took effect in July 2012, carries on the work of both agencies by providing services to prevent and end domestic violence, facilitating financial stability through career and financial education and guiding individuals through difficult legal questions with legal resources.
The ultimate goal of the merger is to have a further community reach for those who need it most. The Family Violence and Prevention Center has been sought out by more than 700 members of the community, and the Women's Center provides assistance annually to more than 3,000 teens and adults.
The Compass Center will help people like Maria, who entered their financial counseling and support group in serious debt. She met weekly with the group for several weeks, then maintained a regular schedule with the lead financial counselor for the fifteen month span of the program. She is now in a much better financial state, and is able to set an example for her two college-aged children.
Another client, Jane, was able to escape with her children from an abusive home life when the center helped her get safe, deal with the hardships of restructuring her family and pursue an advanced degree to help with future job prospects.
"Both agencies have missions that at their core strive to improve the safety and self-sufficiency of women and their children," says Women's Center Board Chair Jennifer Strauss. "Both share a vision... towards ensuring that both women and men have the ability to take care of themselves and their families over the long term."
The Compass Center is currently in the process of extending its bilingual services; the center is hiring a bilingual court advocate, and will be filling an additional bilingual position in the coming months.
"We want prospective clients and community supporters to know we're ready to help clients who are experiencing a domestic violence crisis issue or who are simply in transition and need our self-sufficiency services," says Marya McNeish, development director of the Compass Center.
For more information on the Compass Center, click here.