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Family Justice Center to open in Alexandria

Town Talk

The United Way of Central Louisiana is leading an effort to create a Family Justice Center in Alexandria. It will be the third one in the state after Monroe and New Orleans. The center will be a one-stop location for all the services to assist victims of domestic violence, according to David Britt, CEO of the United Way of Central Louisiana.

“What the Family Justice Center will do in a big way is put the client right in the middle and then surround the client with all the different kind of services depending on that particular individual’s needs. It will also facilitate relationships among the various agencies," Britt said.

Two years ago, Alexandria lost its domestic violence shelter due to financial problems. It served women and children in an eight-parish region. Now these services are offered through a patchwork of domestic violence agencies in Lafayette, Monroe and Ruston. In the wake of this, according to Britt, central Louisiana agencies that work with domestic violence victims have come together to rethink how to best serve them. He said the Family Justice Center model prevents victims from receiving the runaround.

“The silver lining in our cloud of losing our shelter was that the status quo was no longer acceptable so we had to move and do something," Britt said. "That gave us the chance to move it ahead to a Family Justice Center model.”

A capital campaign is underway to purchase a building near the Rapides Parish Courthouse that will house the Family Justice Center. The central Louisiana Community Foundation awarded a $55,000 grant to this project earlier this month. Britt said the center aims to be up and running by March 2014.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.