Like flood insurance and a good lawyer, there are those things in life that we all hope we will never need, but are nonetheless glad to have nearby in the event that we ever find ourselves in a difficult situation.
The Retreat is another one of those things. As the East End’s only not-for-profit facility serving the victims of domestic abuse, The Retreat not only houses women and children escaping from an abusive home but offers legal advice and emotional support as well during their ordeal.
As of late, while many East End businesses have seen a decline, The Retreat, unfortunately, is experiencing no such shortage of customers — 2008 is turning out to be one of the busiest in recent memory. The shelter is full and calls for help on the facility’s hotline and requests for information and assistance have skyrocketed as a direct result of the inevitable stresses brought on working families by reduction in available work and rising costs.
And to add to the woes, The Retreat expects to see much of its public funding slashed severely as local municipalities struggle to get their own economic houses in order. This is funding that is crucial to the operation of the facility which gets the rest of its funding through private donations. Right now, The Retreat is looking at a $32,000 cut in county funding, $2,000 less from Southampton Town and the loss of its entire $10,000 in funding from East Hampton. On the private donations side of the ledger, The Retreat is down $100,000 and climbing.
While we know there are a lot of non-profit organizations facing funding cuts this go around, we are particularly concerned about those facing The Retreat. There are simply no other options available anywhere on the East End for those who need to escape from an abusive and potentially dangerous situations. So while municipalities may try to tell us that in this economic climate they simply cannot afford to fund The Retreat, we would like to counter that in this economic climate they simply cannot afford not to.
Leaving an abusive situation is an extraordinarily difficult thing for victims to do, especially if they are not financially independent. Imagine how much more difficult such a decision would be for a victim of abuse on the East End who could not count on The Retreat for shelter and support. What would happen to that person? You can only wonder.
Which is why we’re asking that all municipalities rethink their decision to cut funding to the valuable and critical community resource. We would especially ask that East Hampton Town, the very town where The Retreat’s offices are located, reconsider the devastating elimination of their entire $10,000 aid package to the center, and we implore our state representatives to do what they can to ensure state funding is not further slashed as the budget moves towards its third round of cuts.
After all, no one knows who among us might need The Retreat’s services next, and without it residents of five towns on the East End will be left out in the cold, with no where to turn away from the violence.Â