South Lake Tahoe nonprofit Live Violence Free celebrates 45 years

The original Cabin used for Live Violence Free.
Provided Chelcee Thomas PhD

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — In 2012, the South Tahoe Women’s Center was rebranded but is still one of the longest standing nonprofits on the South Shore. 

The original Cabin used for Live Violence Free.
Provided Chelcee Thomas PhD

“Live Violence Free because violence and abuse doesn’t discriminate between gender, race, socio-economic status, and the name is a message in itself,” according to Executive Director Chelcee Thomas.

LVF in the midst of celebrating 45 years of serving the public. 

The LVF website has resources available for those in need online as well as a crisis hotline manned by staff and volunteers, and the safe house which provides 12 beds, kitchen, bathroom and other household amenities and food available to families in crisis or transition.

Live Violence Free Office in South Lake Tahoe, Calif.
Provided/Chelcee Thomas PhD

There are two transitional apartment units from the safehouse. Receiving assistance with utilities and rental assistance financial security to help clients get into their own homes.

A small business attached to LVF will begin providing employment with wages that would help provide opportunities to escape abusive situations.

“Low wages often hinder the ability of the abused individual to escape,” Thomas said and added that they want to help empower people in every way from employment to rent/utilities assistance as well as crisis counseling and access to resources. “Live Violence Free believes in a survivor — driven model of empowerment — that means you are the expert in your own life. We respect the decisions you make, for you and your family’s well being. Our role is to help you achieve your hopes and goals for a future free of violence.” 

Thomas said that their current focus is the ‘one conversation’ campaign — one conversation can change a life. 

In addition to providing resources to those abused, Thomas said it’s her dream to have the community prepared and trained on the one conversation campaign, “to provide everyone in the community the resources and tools to support those around them. By giving our community the resources to communicate our goal is to keep pushing that forward.”

On the LVF website education comes in the form of asking the right questions. Quizzes on the on conversation campaign subpage are there to help education on how to identify signs of domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault. 

“Donations volunteering and spreading the education and awareness piece is huge. Equipping yourself with the knowledge to have the ripple effect within the community is huge,” Thomas said.

Former board president and current mayor for South Lake Tahoe Cristi Creegan said, “Live Violence Free’s prevention outreach program is to me one of its most impactful efforts in our community. By educating our students at all grade levels about healthy relationships and positive ways to communicate, we hope to reach a place in which our community can exist without familial violence. But as the breadth of support makes clear, the organization is ready to help and advocate for all who come through its doors.”

Resources constantly need replenishing and time is arguably one of the most elusive of the resources. LVF has survived on the passion of a collection of people who donate time, money and resources. Getting involved can be seeking employment with the nonprofit, making donations of time or money, and becoming a certified crisis intervention specialist.

Original Live Violence Free team – “People Against Rape”
Provided Chelcee Thomas PhD

Volunteers are always needed and can help with weekly distribution, work directly with clients after completing an 80 hour crisis intervention training to become an advocate, man the 24/7 crisis hotline. The certified volunteers often take part in responding with law enforcement or to Barton hospital, provide peer counseling, crisis intervention, and assist individuals with emergency shelter in the confidential safe house.

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