History

In 1981, a group of volunteers trained and supervised by We Care, Inc., an established Orlando-based crisis line, began an Osceola County hotline, to be known as Help Now of Osceola. Osceola Mental Health, Inc. (now called Park Place Behavioral Health Care), the community mental health center, provided supervision, funding and office space to the program. Additional funds were obtained through community and business contributions and fundraisers. Help Now of Osceola was incorporated in January, 1983.

In response to an unmet need that had been extensively documented by hotline calls, Help Now began working toward the development of an Osceola County domestic violence shelter. Money was raised through individual and corporate donations. Guidance for the fledging organization was provided by Spouse Abuse, Inc. an established, HRS certified program serving both Orange and Seminole counties. On August 15, 1983, Help Now opened the doors of an 8-bed domestic violence shelter. The shelter was called WIN House (Women In Need). In addition to the funds supplied by Osceola Mental Health, Inc. funding for the Osceola shelter was subcontracted under Spouse Abuse, Inc. to receive formal supervision, technical assistance, and HRS funding. In January 1989, Help Now received HRS certification, which enabled the organization to contract directly with HRS.

The need for larger accommodations became apparent, and in 1982, Help Now purchased a 2,500 square foot home in Kissimmee, which enabled 17 victims and their children to be served at one time. By 1997, Help Now had outgrown this residence and began construction of a 24 bed facility with the assistance of matching capital funds from the United Way. The new shelter was completed December, 1997. A little over 2 years later, increasing need necessitated another expansion, and by March 1999, an additional 26 beds and 7 rooms were added, along with additional office and counseling space. At present, the shelter is approximately 10,000 square feet.

In 1999, Help Now sought to answer an identified need in the community by opening an Outreach location, thereby allowing anyone who is in a potentially dangerous relationship to receive free counseling and support services without the necessity of shelter services. March 1st, 2001, Help Now hosted an open house to show off its’ newly completed expansion project, giving the shelter a total of 50 emergency beds.

Help Now has grown from a crisis line to a full-scale domestic abus prevention program. Apart from safe shelter, Help Now also provides counseling for victims of domestic abuse and their children, as well as case management, legal advocacy and community education programs.

Help Now has moved from a few volunteers to an extensively trained and highly qualified staff, which consists of both individuals from the “grass roots” movements of the past to the skilled professionals of today. We are fortunate to retain some very valuable volunteers who have donated many hours of their time to promote violence-free living. Help Now is a certified, insured domestic abuse shelter and crisis hotline, which provides essential services to victims in need.

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