AP NEWS

Bingham Crisis Center fills growing county needs

March 19, 2019

There are services available starting at the main office at 288 N. Shilling Ave. in Blackfoot, and there’s an office in Aberdeen at 204 S. Main St. that’s open every Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Now, the center is working toward opening up a location to serve the needs of people in the Shelley-Firth area.

A hotline in English can be reached at (208) 681-8712, and a hotline in Spanish is available at (208) 681-8715.

“There’s an area there (in northern Bingham County) that’s under-utilized,” said Scott Smith, the Crisis Center’s executive director. “There are people in the Shelley-Firth area that are living in silence when it comes to the needs that we work to meet.”

The center’s stated mission is to work within the community to help eliminate domestic and sexual violence, promoting healthy non-violent relationships by providing emergency services, shelter, individual and group treatment, education, and support services to survivors and their families.

Services available at the center include a 24-hour crisis line, emergency shelter, court advocacy, support and advocacy, individual counseling, a support group, supervised visitation, and a “Love and Logic” parenting class.

The non-profit organization has been here almost 40 years. Smith took over a year and a half ago when previous director Dixie Chapman retired.

Right now, Smith sees a definite need to cover the entire county. The group has a bilingual advocate, Dulce Phillips, who covers Aberdeen on Wednesdays.

“She’s been a huge help for us,” Smith said. “She can do everything out there that we can do here.”

The Shelley-Firth locations to come will be handled by a part-time advocate who’s being trained now, but Smith expects that person to be there soon.

Each advocate goes through 40 hours of training online before going through additional in-house training. There are five full-time employees besides the part-time advocate who’ll go to the Shelley-Firth area.

Smith was born and raised in the Riverside-Moreland area, and he’s a 2000 graduate of Snake River High School. He practiced as a chiropractor before he felt there was something else he wanted to accomplish.

“There is no such thing as a ‘typical case’ here,” Smith said. “Domestic abuse is a difficult thing, whether it’s mental or emotional or physical abuse. There are financial issues involved at times. We’re giving options, whether it’s counseling or providing shelter.

“Every case is very different, and every case is taken as such.”

The center is 100 percent grant-funded, he said. Smith spends a lot of time himself finding and writing grants.

“The community is fantastic when it comes to supporting the center,” Smith said. “We receive a lot of donations of money or goods.”

The center helped almost 600 people over the the last eight months with its community closet, which helps individuals and families in need of clothing or small basic necessity household items, regardless of income.

In abuse cases, Smith said the center helped over 500 people last year in some way.

“To hear the stories of abuse, it’s very difficult and you wonder how they survive it,” he added. “The best part of this is seeing the survivors get back on their own feet and see where they go.”

Smith said many abuse victims typically go through seven to 11 “significant situations” before they seek help, which is hard for the victims’ loved ones to deal with as the situations are going on.

“It’s hard for them to see a loved one go through these situations but then they go back to it,” he said. “But until they’re ready to leave that situation, they need that support. (Seeking help) is not something you can push someone in that kind of situation into.”

Smith said expanding locations for the crisis center makes their services more accessible in areas where they’re needed.

He noted that part of the reason he got into chiropractic care earlier was to give people the help they need and see them come out of it stronger. He sees more of an impact in what he’s doing now.

“I get to see people coming in at their worst and seeing them walk out stronger,” Smith said.