TWIN FALLS — When you come through the front door into the Crisis Center of Magic Valley’s emergency shelter, it feels just like a home.
Next to a dining room table, colorful ornaments hang on a large Christmas tree in the corner. Nearby, there’s a living room and kitchen.
It’s a safe place where victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking can stay. About 150 south-central Idaho families came through the Twin Falls emergency shelter last year.
Sometimes, there’s a few people staying at a time or as many as 20.
But executive director Deborah Gabardi said the Crisis Center of Magic Valley is “much more than a shelter.”
In total, the organization provided services to 2,227 people last year.
“The services vary according to their needs,” Gabardi said.
Services include a 24-hour domestic violence and rape crisis hotline, individual and group counseling, support groups, life skills groups, case management, sexual assault and domestic violence victim advocacy and court advocacy.
The nonprofit organization has provided services in south-central Idaho for about 30 years.
During the holiday season — and year round — the organization seeks donations of basic items such as deodorant and laundry detergent to help out those at the shelter.
“We are always appreciative of any donation,” Gabardi said, noting that Twin Falls is a giving community.
She said Costco and Target are some of the largest suppliers. Gabardi said there’s good collaboration with community partners to make sure victims’ needs are met.
“We really do work as a team in our community,” she said.
Crisis Center of Magic Valley served about 40,000 meals last year. That includes meals at the emergency shelter and to others receiving services through the nonprofit organization.
The organization spends just 50 cents per meal. That’s because they receive food through the Idaho Food Bank and commodities from South Central Community Action Partnership.
Crisis Center of Magic Valley also receives food donations from individuals and churches.
Providing meals allows those in need to put that money toward another need instead, Gabardi said, such as rent or a utility bill. For those the organization helps, she said the cost of housing has become increasingly difficult.
The organization also has a 10-year-old van — purchased by United Way funds — that’s used to provide transportation to appointments. Gabardi said they pay for gas money for those in need to get to appointments, as well as provide child care.
When it comes to better helping victims, Crisis Center of Magic Valley is in the process of putting together a sexual assault response team. It includes emergency room nurses, the nonprofit organization’s employees and law enforcement officers.
“When we all work together, it’s so much better for the victim,” Gabardi said.
The organization has trained advocates who can provide help to victims 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Advocates must go through at least 40 hours of training.
“That first contact is important,” Gabardi said.
Typically, the vast majority of the people seeking services are women and children. Gabardi said there’s an average of three children for every adult served. The organization also provides services to men, but not many ask for help.
“I think it’s an unfortunate thing that most men don’t want to admit they’re victims,” Gabardi said.