Story by: Jessi Mitchell

OKLAHOMA CITY – This week Oklahoma City is hosting leaders from family justice centers worldwide.

The Alliance for Hope International is highlighting the work of Palomar at its annual leadership summit.

Palomar is among the country’s newer family justice centers, but leaders in the field believe it could become the next international model.

Since the one-stop shop for domestic violence victims opened in 2017, Oklahoma City crime trends quickly started to shift.

Casey Gwinn, who created the first family justice center in San Diego, took notice.

“No homicides,” Gwinn said, “not a single client killed. That’s amazing. These are high-risk victims in a very violent situations coming forward for help and Palomar is saving lives.”

More than two dozen agencies now work together under one roof to provide tens of thousands of services for people in Oklahoma County, and animal advocates have also helped more than 200 pets.

“…which nobody in the US is doing,” Palomar CEO Kim Garrett pointed out about the animal advocacy program, “and it’s looking at the co-occurrence of human violence and animal violence, and working together to provide wraparound resources for those families.”

At the summit, Garrett brainstormed ways to improve alongside representatives from family justice centers around the world. Local leaders already know they want to expand Camp Hope statewide to break the cycle of abuse for thousands more kids.

Gwinn explained, “If we can take kids with a ton of trauma, with impacts of historic oppression, racism and poverty all mixed in, and we can increase hope in their lives, they do better in school, and they have brighter futures.”

As voters consider the MAPS 4 package in December, a building expansion at Palomar would allow the agencies inside to expand their services through the money saved. That will result in more lives saved.

“We have a lot of survivors here with us, saying this model gives my children and me a place to go to make me feel like we belong,” Gwinn said, “not just for 30 days or 45 days at a shelter, but for years, and that’s our goal.”

If you or a loved one is experiencing domestic abuse, help is available. You can reach the Oklahoma State Safe Line 24/7 at 1-800-522-SAFE (7233). To learn more about the services available at Palomar, click here.

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