Prince George's County

Nonprofit Launches App for Domestic Violence Survivors

A nonprofit organization in Largo, Maryland, has launched what it calls a quiet, quick and safe method to help domestic violence victims.

Community Advocates for Family and Youth (CAFY) launched an app called “SafeNight,” which allows anyone to anonymously donate money to help a person involved in a domestic situation a safe haven.

Arleen Joell, founder and executive director of CAFY, said anyone can download the app on their cell phones with an alert immediately posted if one of the group’s clients would need assistance.

A donor can give any amount of money and contributions are tax-deductible. However, the funds would be only used if shelters in Prince George’s County and neighborhood jurisdictions are completely occupied.

This app would also serve as the only one utilized in the D.C. area.

“It’s a resource for us because it prevents us from running out of funds for emergency stay to get people out of harm’s way,” Joell said. “No matter when that is and when a shelter is full, it can be reduced to minutes.”

So far, CAFY has about 52 supporters with a goal to reach 300 to ensure no request is denied. In addition, Joell said it allows the organization to use its fund for legal, financial and other resources and programs.

She said the organization serves more than 1,600 clients with about 50 percent involved in domestic violence.

According to National Network to End Domestic Violence’s 12th annual census count in September 2017, advocates and officials answered slightly more than 19,100 hotline calls.

The report noted Maryland ranked 24th in the nation to serve 926 people with legal, transportation and services. The state did place 13th in answering 466 domestic violence hotline calls.

Prince George’s continues to rank number one in the state in domestic-related homicides — one reason Joell believes the SafeNight app will not only help more people, but also allow CAFY to connect with other organizations.

Caravan Studios, established five years ago and a division of TechSoup based in San Francisco, created the app to help those victims of human trafficking and domestic violence.

Not every nonprofit can receive the app, however. There are two main stipulations for a company to receive the app: It must be a 501(c)3, or tribal organization, and must provide sheltering services for survivors.

Marnie Webb, CEO of Caravan Studios, said about 80 organizations in 12 states use the SafeNight app.

Through the app, a “Safe Shelter Collaborative” allow groups to combine resources and technology currently active in the Fort Worth-Dallas region in Texas; Northern California; Colorado; and New Jersey. The best part of the joint venture: it’s free.

“This why we built this app, so survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking … can get a safe place and start to pull their resources together and get out of this abuse,” Webb said. “We hope by opening up the possibility of using hotels as temporary replacement to get more people into support faster.”

For more information, go to www.safenightapp.org.

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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