Monroe County family organization receives third grant from DTE


Family Counseling and Shelter Services of Monroe County recently received its third grant from the DTE Foundation.

The latest award was for $6,100.

FCSS also received $6,000 from DTE in December, 2019. In December, 2020, because of the pandemic, DTE increased the award to $15,000.

The DTE Foundation awarded three grants to each of the 45 Michigan domestic violence shelters funded by Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. In all, the donation totaled $1.8 million. The goal is to create safe havens for victims of domestic violence, especially during the pandemic, when domestic violence increased statewide.

“Safe, nurturing homes are the foundation for a healthy, vital Michigan because they enable people to give their full energy toward their families, communities and jobs. The DTE Foundation has the ability to step in, bring the domestic violence epidemic to the forefront and make a significant difference for shelters and the Michiganders they support,” said Lynette Dowler, president of the DTE Foundation.

Crystal Martin, executive director of Family Counseling Shelter Services of Monroe County, said FCSS has seen about a 20 percent increase in domestic violence calls since the pandemic began.

“We had a lot more people calling in, looking for support services. We were at capacity the whole time,” said Martin. “We did not drop any programs or services.”

She is pleased with the DTE awards.

“Domestic violence shelters, even without COVID, are really in need of funding. It’s exciting to have a foundation such as DTE be so supportive and recognize the needs of our county and across the whole state,” said Martin. “People are struggling when it comes to domestic violence. Having domestic violence shelters are a safe haven. When they get there, victims are empowered to stay away from the abuser and learn how to not get into an abusive relationship later. We can’t do it unless we have financial support. DTE’s been really supportive through COVID, helping all of the domestic violence shelters throughout the state, even if they are not (in that city). They’ve been amazing. We’ve gotten smaller grants from them (in the past). If we have fundraisers, they are awesome about volunteering and they give some grant money too.”

Because of COVID and its ongoing effects, FCSS will use most of the DTE funds to continue daily operations.

“It’s really nice to have that additional funding so we can continue operating. We’re still taking a hit from COVID,” said Martin.

FCSS is funded by the federal government, United Way, donors and fundraisers. Funds remain down because of the pandemic.

“Donors were wondering, am I going to get a paycheck?” said Martin.

FCSS also had to cancel some of its biggest annual fundraisers, including a spring dinner.

“We had everything planned for 2020. The shut-down was two weeks before our event. The dinners raise $15,000 to $20,000. That’s a lot of money to lose,” said Martin.

Counseling services also were down. While victims of domestic violence and sexual assault receive free counseling, others pay, which provides revenue for the organization.

“A lot of people wanted to wait for in-person. We lost some funds,” said Martin. “For 2020, we had 720 clients between our counseling and domestic violence and sexual assault clients. Approximately 3,000 shelter nights and 334 100 percent free domestic violence or sexual assault counseling sessions.”

Family Counseling Shelter Services of Monroe County, 14930 LaPlaisane Rd., Suite 106, has served Monroe County since 1966. It currently has a staff of 21 and a number of volunteers.

FCSS operates an 18-bed domestic violence shelter, children’s center and a full range of counseling services, including an anger management program, domestic violence prevention program, children’s art therapy, professional counseling, batterer invention program, 24-hour crisis support, domestic violence support group, parenting classes, divorce recovery support group and therapeutic visitation.

Telehealth started during the pandemic.

“One positive thing about COVID was thinking outside-the-box. We asked, how can we still service everyone in Monroe County with the shut-downs? It’s really important going forward for people with no transportation, those on the outskirts of the county, the homebound, even people sick that day,” said Martin.

Domestic violence, she said, remains a problem.

“We see a lot of clients. Domestic violence is high in Monroe County and all throughout the state. Mental health services are very much needed. We are seeing the usual needs—depression, suicide, family conflict—but COVID added unemployment and loss of family members. There’s an increase in mental health needs,” said Martin. “We always hope that we’re going to see a decreased, but, unfortunately the biggest needs are with mental health and domestic violence.”

FCSS's counseling services are available to all. Most insurances are accepted. Sliding fees and reduced fees are available.

“We’ll work with them. We will not turn anyone away who needs counseling,” said Martin. “You don’t have to be at the shelter to get services, like help finding a job or childcare. You can get any of our services as a non-shelter resident. We want to make sure we're serving everyone.”

Donations needed

Family Counseling and Shelter Services of Monroe County is in need of donations and volunteers.

Pre-COVID, the organization had more than 100 volunteers, but that number has drastically decreased.

Dana Marshall, volunteer coordinator, is trying to build up the volunteer list.

“Volunteers help sort donations, training at home or online, teaching class, babysitting, doing activities with kids, helping with transportation, helping our shelter advocates. We can always use volunteers,” said Crystal Martin, director.

To learn more about volunteering, call Marshall at (734) 241-0180.

This article originally appeared on The Monroe News: Monroe County family organization receives third grant from DTE

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