FCASV is excited to be a part of the 2015-2018 grant cycle of the OVW Rural Sexual Assault Program. With the help of Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center (SPARCC) and Gulf Coast Children’s Advocacy Center, FCASV was able to complete and submit a thorough narrative and grant application that ultimately earned the awarding of the grant. This cycle, the project will focus on continuing unique sexual assault services to a former rural grant county and expand services into parts of Florida’s Panhandle which had been absent of sexual assault services for some time. In DeSoto County, SPARCC will continue providing services, resources, and legal education specific to the area’s population, which is mainly made up of migrant farmworkers. Delia Noyola, who led the project in the past cycle for SPARCC, will expand on the successful work done in DeSoto County over the past 3 years. The past cycle focused on SART development and community needs assessments. Using the information gathered and the positive community response, Delia, with help from FCASV and various community partners, will work to inform the community that regardless of their legal status, they have rights to services and justice.
In the Panhandle, we welcome the newly formed Gulf Coast Sexual Assault Program. Gulf Coast Sexual Assault Program is a branch of Gulf Coast Children’s Advocacy Center that has been providing services to victims of childhood sexual abuse in Bay County for the last 15 years. Their excellent rapport with the community drove them to expand to now offer sexual assault services in 5 counties. With help from the Rural Sexual Assault Program grant, they will be able to provide much needed services to Calhoun County, Holmes County, Jackson County, and Washington County. In close proximity to Bay County, a popular Spring Break destination, these counties were in much need of education, sexual assault services, and coordination between key community players. Gulf Coast brings in Rhonda Lee and Cindy Bard, who together have over 40 years of victim advocacy expertise. They will take the lead in developing SARTS in the area and maintaining relationships with key community partners, as well as providing complete advocacy services to sexual assault victims in the four Panhandle counties. Due to the lack of such services in the past, Cindy and Rhonda will also be charged with the task of reaching out to the community and educating its members of the services that are now available. They will do this with help from FCASV and their newly established SART teams who will work to assess the needs of these communities.
To assist with the project, FCASV has appointed Jose Carval the new Rural Program Coordinator. All of us here at FCASV are excited for what the next three years will bring to these five communities, thanks to the help of Office of Violence Against Women. However, our rural technical assistance is not limited to these areas. FCASV will continue to provide rural technical assistance to all of Florida’s rural counties. For more information on the grant or to request technical assistance, please contact Jose Carval at Jcarval@fcasv.org.