Sexual assault center will move to new offices

February 14, 1994|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,Sun Staff Writer

An article in Monday's Howard County section of The Sun incorrectly listed the new telephone number for the Howard County Sexual Assault Center. As of March 1, the new number will be 290-6432.

The Sun regrets the error.

The Howard County Sexual Assault Center is moving to a new office complex that the staff members say will help them expand and improve their services.

Beginning March 1, the center will be housed in the Crystal Heights Office Center at 10015 Old Columbia Road in Columbia. Staff members will remain available for counseling during the move, which will begin Feb. 21.


Since the center opened 20 years ago, sharing space in the Harriet Tubman Center -- now the Grassroots Homeless Shelter in Columbia -- the full-time paid staff has grown from four workers to 12 and is overseen by a 20-member board of directors. Its services include individual and group counseling and a 24-hour hot line, operated by about 30 volunteers.

"We need more space . . . The client base is growing," said Joy Teague, the center's office administrator. "We would like to go out of business."

But that seems unlikely any time soon.

During the past fiscal year, which ran from July 1, 1992 to June 30, 1993, the center held 1,808 individual and 76 group counseling sessions for victims, and 442 sessions for victims' parents.

In addition, the center logged 510 crisis intervention calls during the same period from sexual assault victims or from their family members. And staff members made 45 visits to emergency rooms with rape victims.

For the past seven years, the center has operated out of an office shared by the Domestic Violence Center of Howard bTC County in the Gorman Plaza Building off Route 108 in Columbia.

The new location will increase the number of offices by one to 13 and give the center its own conference room and group therapy room in a 2,400-square-foot space, more than 500 square feet larger than the current office.

"This year is our 20th anniversary and we're moving into our very own facility," said Brooke Slunt, the center's education and training specialist. "We're kind of starting fresh, again."

The center will have its own entrance that is wheelchair accessible. Staff members have been concerned that the current building, which has a wheelchair accessible entrance only on the side of the building and not through the main entrance, made disabled clients feel like second-class citizens.

"That's just like saying, 'Because of the color of your skin, you have to go through the side door,' " Ms. Teague said. "We would like people to be able to come through the front door. . . The building should accommodate that."

The new location also will have better lighting in the parking lot to make clients feel more comfortable, Ms. Teague said.

Because of the move, the center's new telephone number will be 290-6423. The hot line number will remain the same: 997-3292.

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