With October being Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the staff at Brighter Tomorrows is excited to announce some big changes within the organization.
The domestic violence/sexual assault agency is now providing services at Scenic Bluffs Community Health Center, located at 238 Front Street in Cashton.
Brighter Tomorrows offers safety planning, personal, legal, and medical advocacy services and information and referrals to other local resources. Staff also offer supportive listening to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Advocates are trained to provide one-on-one support to those in crisis ensuring that victims receive services and assistance that they need to be safe, which are free, confidential, and accessible to any and all victims.
Since September 28, Brighter Tomorrows services are now available in Cashton 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. the second and fourth Tuesday of each month. Walk-in appointments are available on a first come, first serve basis.
“It offers a different level of confidentiality because there’s several programs at Scenic Bluffs so people could be there for a variety of reasons,” said Jan Bruder, program coordinator. “It’s really exciting. The programs in La Crosse have victim advocates on campus at Gundersen and Mayo, but there’s no victim advocates on campus in Monroe County.”
Scenic Bluffs is an independent, non-profit healthcare provider, offering a wide range of primary care and complementary therapy services. The clinic accepts most private insurance, Wisconsin Medicaid, Medicare, and care for those without insurance.
Additionally, it offers a sliding-fee scale to help reduce the cost of care.
“If we’re there, it’s a great way to let people know that they can come in and get help,” Bruder said. “We’ve also never done any outreach at a clinic location or any outreach in Cashton.”
With the addition of outreach in Cashton, Brighter Tomorrows will sadly be closing its Tomah location. “We still serve all of Monroe County, but we will no longer be providing services out of a Tomah space as of this week,” Bruder explained.
The organization is also preparing to implement its new therapy dog program. Sol, Brighter Tomorrows’ newest staff member, is a 15-week-old English cream golden retriever. Sol’s handler, Lynn Buhl, says he is adjusting well to his first few rounds of training.
Sol will be trained to provide support to clients suffering from anxiety and/or fear and he will work one-on-one with clients in the office, and he will also accompany victims to court hearings.
With the help of the community, Brighter Tomorrows was able to raise over $14,000 to put toward Sol, his training and continued care.
“We just want to thank the community for its support,” Bruder said. “All of that was from local businesses and individual donors.”
Before Sol is ready for his full-time work, he and Buhl will be taking two levels of obedience classes, where he will learn the basics. Then he will take two levels of manners classes where he will learn to act accordingly in public.
After that, Sol will enroll in therapy dog training in La Crosse, which is a bit more extensive, where he will learn how to work directly with victims. Altogether, his training will take about a year.
“Sol will graduate from his first puppy class next week and then he will move on to puppy two classes,” Buhl said.
Once he passes all his required classes, Sol will begin working with clients who come in for services.
Sol is named for the sun; in ancient Roman religion, Sol is the personification of the sun, which Buhl felt was an appropriate name for a dog who will bring brightness to his clients, who have been living in dark situations.
In addition to working with clients in the office, Brighter Tomorrows has also gotten permission through the court system to bring Sol in for victims’ hearings, which was the inspiration behind the program.
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