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Treatment center needs financial support

The new regional sexual assault examination and treatment center in Milltown is not even open yet, but with the aid of donations and the creation of an endowment fund, officials hope the center will be open “forever.”
Dr. Jerry Ramsey of El Bethel, a professor of business administration and organizational change at Indiana University Southeast and a member of the treatment center’s new board of directors, described the virtues of endowment funds last week at the monthly meeting of the Harrison County Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Coordinating Council.
Ramsey said tax-deductible donations to non-profit 501(c)3 groups can attract identical sum matches from organizations like the Crawford and Harrison County community foundations to create endowment funds. A small percentage of the endowment’s capital, five percent, then becomes available for such things as annual operating expenses, which are eventually “hard to come by,” Ramsey said.
A healthy endowment fund can practically guarantee that an organization will have the funds to exist “forever, in perpetuity,” Ramsey said at the monthly luncheon at Lincoln Hills Christian Church in Corydon.
Ramsey was accompanied by Bonita Embry Coots, the executive director of the Community Foundation of Crawford County.
“Indiana is unique,” Ramsey said, because it has “an extremely generous source of money, the Eli Lilly Foundation in Indianapolis, which has helped establish 95 foundations around the state to establish permanent funds to foster good causes. Lilly has poured millions of dollars into organizations throughout the state in recent years.
“We (the Crawford foundation) are connected with the Southern Indiana Community Foundation,” Ramsey said. He also serves on that board.
Cheryl Hillenburg, the leader of the domestic violence task force and a treatment center director, said the center could use an endowment fund because federal funds could freeze up down the road,” a reference to the fact that the Bush Administration wants to cut back on funding for domestic violence legislation, and a shrinking economy bodes ill for contributions.
Hillenburg, Milltown Chief Marshal Ray Saylor, Lola Ratterman, R.N., and others found an office in the Milltown Medical Center, and the Town of Milltown, which owns the property, agreed to provide the space free for several months.
Volunteers cleaned up the former dentist’s office Saturday and have started to get it ready for operation.
The center will be available, with trained nurse examiners on call, to treat victims of sexual assault, whether adult or children, in a confidential, secure and friendly environment. Victims will be examined with up-to-date medical forensic equipment, provided by Harrison County Hospital, and be seen by counselors, victim advocates and police investigators.
Thus far, the center has no name, although Ramsey has suggested “Regional Alliance to Prevent Exploitation” or RAPE, which implies that the center would treat rape victims as well as victims of other kinds of abuse and domestic violence.
Hillenburg, a deputy prosecutor in Harrison County, said the conviction rate in rape cases went from 20 percent to 70 percent after a sexual assault response team was established in 1994 in Allen County (Fort Wayne). Most rape victims never report the crime, out of fear of reprisals, humiliation and extended court action. A Minnesota study found that only 20 percent of all rape victims who report the crime are inclined to be fully committed to pursuing a conviction in court, but the number jumps to 92 percent when victims are examined by a trained nurse examiner and advised by victim advocates.
Dr. Sharon Laufer wrote out a check for $100 on Thursday — the first donation to the center’s endowment fund.
To donate to the sexual assault examination and treatment center, make the check payable to the Community Foundation of Crawford County, and write RAPE Center in the memo line. Send it to Cheryl Hillenburg, Harrison County Prosecutor’s Office, at the Harrison County Justice Center, 1445 Gardiner Lane, Suite 3101, Corydon, IN 47112.