Women’s Center changes names, keeps providing critical help | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Women’s Center changes names, keeps providing critical help

Josh Sweigert

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Until she was put in contact with the South Lake Tahoe Women’s Center, life was a nightmare for Tammy and her children.

“I don’t even know where I’d be right now without them,” Tammy said about the nonprofit, her hands clenched tightly under the table on Thursday as fresh tears rolled down her cheeks.

The center celebrated its 35th year Thursday night, unveiling a new name and logo with a launch party at their Lake Tahoe Blvd. location. The organization is now entitled “Live Violence Free”.

“It went great, there was a great turnout,” said Executive Director Laurie Wagoner. “We heard a lot of positive comments. I didn’t hear any negative comments on the new name.”

The Women’s Center was founded in 1977 when volunteers established a rape crisis hotline in response to a rising number of sexual assaults in South Lake Tahoe. Expanding its services and facilities over the years, the organization now offers a wide range of free and confidential programs for all community members. Services offered include individual counseling, weekly support groups, legal advice for low-income survivors and emergency domestic violence shelter and transitional housing programs.

For Tammy, and thousands of women like her, resources like these can provide a new lease on life.

Tammy’s story is one of ongoing intimidation, threats and violence at the hands of her husband. Her last name is being withheld by the Tribune because she is a victim of domestic abuse. Tammy and her family moved around the country routinely, staying in a town only until repeat domestic disturbance calls to local police led her husband to pick up the family and relocate, she said.

The pattern of abuse and violence continued after the family moved from Los Angeles to Meyers in 2008.

“I didn’t know what to tell my kids,” the mother of three recalled. “They could see the bruises and cuts, but I just didn’t know what to say.”

After learning that an arrest warrant had been issued for him, Tammy’s husband returned to Los Angeles and turned himself in. Tammy’s sister recommended that she head to the South Lake Tahoe Women’s Center.

“I don’t even remember the first person I talked to, I was in complete shock,” said Tammy. “I was in there all the time asking questions. I felt like I couldn’t retain anything, so I would go in and ask the same question.”

But the repeat visits paid off. The staff at the center provided Tammy and her children with crucial support and guidance.

“They gave me books about situations like mine, and pamphlets, things I had wanted to look at for such a long time,” said Tammy. “The kids did the parent to parent program. Both my therapist and counselor were recommended by the program.”

This Christmas the family was amazed when the fire department stopped by their house with a turkey dinner and gift certificate to Grocery Outlet in hand. After two years of working with the Women’s Center, she is recovering both physically and emotionally.

“I feel good, I feel like I have support. I know [my advocate] is going to be with me in court,” said Tammy. “We came to this town and knew nobody, but now I’m always steered in the right direction.”

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