Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center receives $600,000 from Hays County Commissioners Court


Artwork at the Hays-Caldwell Women's Center portraying names of people and organizations who donated to the cause. "Creating an environment where violence and abuse are not tolerated in our community" Photo credit: Daniel Weeks

Daniel Weeks

The Hays County Commissioners Court approved a $600,000 donation for the Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center to fund the construction of a new housing facility for victims of abuse and violence.

The HCWC was founded in 1978 as a professional women’s group hosting workshops for women in the workforce. The center evolved into a shelter for victims of domestic violence as the organization grew, becoming one of the first of 13 shelters and first of six sexual assault programs in Texas.

The current housing provided by HCWC operates as a temporary transitional shelter; the new complex under construction will allow victims to reside for longer.

The Commissioners Court voted July 16 for the donation to HCWC. The construction of the complex is likely to begin fall 2019 near the original location and is expected to cost over $4 million.

Other lesser known programs include educational services provided by HCWC. Full-time educators working for the center educate middle schools, high schools and Texas State on violence and abuse prevention. The education initiatives cover victimization as well as perpetrator behavior, with an emphasis on forming healthy relationships and teaching consent.

Melissa Rodriguez, director of community partnerships at the Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center, said she believes Texas education programs generally do not provide sufficient sexual health education, though there has increased awareness recently.

“In Texas, there are mandated laws that say schools are supposed to provide sexual health education and dating violence prevention education, but most schools do not know they are required to or they don’t have the means to do so,” Rodriguez said. “They know youth are experiencing these issues; they’re struggling with it and living at homes with it, so we’ve been getting a lot more requests for programming because there’s more awareness.”

According to Rodriguez, there are various misconceptions surrounding the HCWC. Qualifications for receiving services from the center solely consist of someone’s location. Anyone who lives, works or goes to school in Hays or Caldwell counties have access to the free and completely confidential services provided by HCWC. Additionally, while the title of the center features women, HCWC is inclusive to all identities and orientations.

Rodriguez wants to raise awareness of the fact men, too, can potentially be victims of abuse and should seek assistance.

“We’re not going to end violence just working with women,” Rodriguez said. “Violence can occur in any gender. It’s complicated to talk to young men because there’s all this societal stuff we can’t change overnight, but we make efforts to make sure men know they are welcome here too and they qualify for services.”

HCWC has a project titled Stop the Hurt, an educational resource created to further develop the dialogue forming around sexual health. The center works closely with Men Against Violence to create dialogue across Texas State’s campus, especially during Sexual Assault Awareness month in April. Other organizations associated with the center are Not On My Campus and Healthy Cats Peer Educators.

T.I. Palmer, UPD investigator, said it is important to listen to a survivor of abuse, no matter how much time has passed since an incident.

“It is important we listen to survivors and everything they say,” Palmer said. “That’s one thing I do when I sit down with a survivor: I listen. I don’t interrupt. Afterwards if I need to ask then I’ll ask. It doesn’t matter if it’s been one year, two years, five years, ten years. At some point, the survivor is going to feel the need to talk and reach out. It has to be on their terms.”

The Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center is working toward a future community with no tolerance for violence. The expansion of the center will provide unprecedented benefits for survivors of abuse in Hays and Caldwell counties, but it is the job of the community to promote sexual health education, healthy relationships and self-compassion.

Contact HCWC by calling (512)396-3404.

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