Sheltering people here at Lake Tahoe |

Sheltering people here at Lake Tahoe

Lisa Michele Utzig

There is no doubt that Hurricane Katrina has caused physical destruction of mass proportions. But what about the emotional damage? In their battle for survival, stress levels of Katrina’s victim’s are skyrocketing. Families and relationships are being put to the test and acts of violence are on the rise as the physiological effects on the people of New Orleans take their toll. For those of us safe at home, it is hard to imagine why so many of the people living in New Orleans have not left.

We have seen the shocking news footage and the heart-wrenching photos on the front page of every paper, and we find ourselves wondering: How would I react in this situation? How would I care for my family? Get to a safe place? Find help? Unfortunately, these very questions are going unanswered for thousands of families trying to survive the aftermath of Katrina. What many of us don’t realize is that these same questions go unanswered for people who are not in the midst of a natural disaster, people living right here in our community. It may be hard for some to understand that leaving a violent situation comes with obstacles that can be easily overlooked by those in a safe environment.

Here in South Lake Tahoe, the Women’s Center fed and clothed 800 people and provided close to 3,000 nights of shelter. The people who come to use these services may be fleeing from a violent and unhealthy situation. They are mothers, sisters, and co-workers, young and old, wealthy and poor, and they are all asking the same questions: How would I care for my family? Get to a safe place? Find help?

The South Lake Tahoe Women’s Center offers help in finding the right solution. The center offers individual and group counseling for victims of domestic violence, emergency transitional shelter, parenting and anger management classes, and many other services to assist individuals and families looking for support regarding domestic violence, sexual assault, or child abuse issues.

If you are concerned about your safety or the safety of your family call the 24 hour confidential crisis line at (530) 544-4444 or stop by the Woman’s Center, located at 2941 Lake Tahoe Blvd., to speak confidentially with a counselor.

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– Lisa Michele Utzig is the outreach coordinator at the South Lake Tahoe Women’s Center

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