The non-profit agency "Call Rape" is crying foul over the Tulsa Area United Way's plan to force it to merge with another organization.
The United Way plans to eliminate Call Rape's funding in two years if Call Rape doesn't merge with Domestic Violence Intervention Services or DVIS. As News on 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright explains, Call Rape believes its programs should remain separate.
This woman we'll call "Georgia" was raped nine years ago and didn't know where to turn until she heard about Call Rape during a seminar. "One of the people came to my school and did a presentation and it was really helpful." Yet, it's that very type of educational seminar that United Way plans to cut out of Call Rape's budget next year.
Call Rape receives $171,000 a year in United Way money, that's about a third of its total budget. United Way plans to cancel all the funding in 2005 if Call Rape doesn't merge with DVIS. Call Rape board president Sandy Brownlee: "We have our program is second to none and that's our main concern, that people are able to find us quickly and our name and our number. We just don't want that to stop."
The United Way says the merger won't decrease services, but it will decrease overhead and administrative costs. Kathleen Coan, United Way President: "We're not asking Call Rape to go away. Their programs are valuable, we just asking them to do it in a different type of vehicle."
If Call Rape doesn't decide to merge, it must find another way to get funding, which won't be easy in these dire economic times. "Georgia" simply hopes nothing stops Call Rape from having a personal touch with victims like her. "Just a person with skin on who said, I can help and it didn't matter how much I made or what my insurance was, they just let me know, I could get help now." Georgia says that kind of help is priceless.
Call Rape's services include a 24-hour crisis line, people to go with victims for medical exams, group and individual counseling and advocates to help victims through the court system. All of these services are free.
The United Way supports the programs but says Tulsa is the only city in the state with separate domestic violence and sexual assault agencies.