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Family Violence Center Gets Its First Male Director

http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/familyviol_5497.mp3

There’s a new face at the helm of the ship at Springfield’s largest battered women’s shelter. And for the first time, it’s not a woman. KSMU's Jennifer Moore reports.

Before Rodney Dwyer took over as executive director of the Family Violence Center, he was a home health and hospice consultant with the large accounting firm BKD. Through his volunteering at the shelter, he learned they were in need of a director. I visited the shelter to interview him and take a tour. We began by talking about whether being a man at an all-women’s shelter puts him at an advantage or a disadvantage.

He said he believes it's an advantage for the shelter, because he can bring a new perspective to the issue of domestic violence, and point out that this is not "just a women's issue," but rather a community issue.

On the tour, we head downstairs in the administration building, to the place where donations are stored: dishes, blenders, and other household items. "We are 100 percent funding by grants and donations," Dwyer said.

He knocks on the door of the shelter’s daycare facility.

"In order for a mother to use the daycare facility, they have to actually get that approved through their case manager," he said.

We head outside and walk next door past a separate building, known as the “Little House.”

That's where, he says, the residents attend classes on self-esteem, budgeting and other life skills. Many have never used a checkbook, he says, because the abusive partner in their relationship kept tight control over the finances.

Finally, we arrive at the third and final buildling: the actual shelter.

"These are the last few steps to safety a lot of people have to walk," Dwyer says. "So these are good steps."

We head inside and the first office is the hotline office, which Dwyer says is the “heart of the shelter."

This building also has apartments known as “transitional housing.” That’s for women who can pay some of their own rent and bills on their path to financial independence.

Again, that was Rodney Dwyer, the new executive director of Springfield’s largest battered women’s shelter, the Family Violence Center. He’s the first man to hold that position.

For KSMU News, I'm Jennifer Moore.

LINKS:

Family Violence Center

24 Hour Hotline for Victims of Abuse: 417-864-SAFE 1-800-831-6863