Story by: Katie Filling

The new Family Justice Center in Savannah is almost ready to open. It’s a one-stop-shop for family violence victim services.

The public is invited inside for the first time Saturday during an open house. It’s located at 2005 Waters Avenue and it’s from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. We got to go in a day early to see the progress and give you a sneak preview.

It’s a place where victims of family violence can all the services they need in one location.

Kristin Fulford is the public information officer for the District Attorney’s office and she’s been working on this project for four years. She said family violence includes domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse, and rape. They get them the help they need it the moment and also help them get back on their feet.

“Our bottom line is we want to try to break the cycle and provide them with whatever they need. Whether it’s child-support, whether it’s safe shelter, whether it’s helping them find a job and getting trained for that job. There’s lots of services they need that may be hard to access, so we’ll do our best to address those things,” said Fulford.

Currently, victims have to travel all over the county to different agencies to get the services they need.

“Someone who’s in that kind of crisis may have to, currently in the community, go to somewhere between eight and ten different places to get assistance and if you’re in crisis and you’re in a domestic violence situation, you might be monitored, you may not have the resources necessary, you might not have a car,” said Fulford.

The Family Justice Center brings all of the services under one roof.

The Savannah police department, the District Attorney’s office, Safe Shelter, the Rape Crisis Center, Coastal Children’s Advocacy Center and the Mediation Center are all there.

The victim will privately explain their situation to a trained professional, then the help they need is right there.

Cheryl Branch works with domestic violence victims as the Executive Director of Safe Shelter. She said this will provide help in a comfortable environment.

“They’re going through enough turmoil as it is, even the wall colors this is a soothing color, it’s going to be a place for the kids to play,” she said. “I hope that it’s really going to be that light that’s going to shine on why victim services and the delivery of victim services is so important.”

Almost everything in the center was donated or built by community volunteers.

“It’s hard not to get excited when you walk in and see what a group of volunteers have done,” said Fulford.

They still need a few more things and you can find their registry here if you’d like to help.

You can come inside the Family Justice Center at Saturday’s Open House. It was originally planned to coincide with the Arts on Waters Block Party, but that’s been postponed to next Saturday, Nov. 23. The justice center will still have the open house this weekend but will also have another open house next weekend during the block party.

The ribbon-cutting and grand opening will be on Dec. 16 at 10:30 a.m. and the community is invited to join the celebration.

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