Cherokee Nation unveils victim services office, housing center renderings

BY STAFF REPORTS
10/20/2020 09:00 AM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Shown is the artist’s rendering for the new ONE FIRE Victim Services office in Tahlequah. CN officials said that in fiscal year 2020, ONE FIRE helped more than 400 domestic violence survivors. COURTESY
Main Cherokee Phoenix
The tribe’s new transitional housing facility in Stilwell will include seven apartments featuring a kitchen, living room and bedrooms. It will also have a communal utility room, kids play room as well as a classroom for life coaching sessions and other programs. COURTESY
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation has released artist’s renderings for its new ONE FIRE Victim Services office in Tahlequah and transitional housing center in Stilwell that aim to help domestic violence victims with more space and added resources.

CN officials recently announced plans for the two facilities, and Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., first lady January Hoskin and Deputy Chief Bryan Warner unveiled the renderings after signing a Domestic Violence Awareness Month proclamation.

“It’s a proud day in the Cherokee Nation as we unveil renderings for a new ONE FIRE Victim Services headquarters and a new transitional living facility,” Chief Hoskin said. “This is all thanks to the first lady January for challenging us to expand services for victims of domestic violence and give our staff and citizens a facility worthy of this important mission. The first lady encouraged us early on to do more in the area of domestic violence prevention, provide more services and get services out into the community, and that is what we are doing – investing in our advocacy program and helping our citizens who need help with a safe space for rebuilding.”

ONE FIRE stands for Our Nation Ending Fear, Intimidation, Rape, and Endangerment. Through the program, the CN offers services including housing, legal and advocacy assistance to women who are victims of a crime residing within the tribe’s reservation boundaries.

“It’s critical that Cherokees have a safe and secure place to go when they must flee an abusive situation,” the first lady said. “Far too often in northeast Oklahoma, when this type of emergency need arises, all the beds at area shelters are full and there is simply no place to go, and that’s when women and families in need get turned out onto the street. Now, because we are taking on this endeavor, Cherokee women can have a safe place to go, and we will not be dependent on other people or other nonprofits. As a mother of Cherokee children and grandmother of Cherokee grandchildren, this effort is really important to me.”

CN officials said that in fiscal year 2020, ONE FIRE helped more than 400 domestic violence survivors with financial services such as rental and utility assistance, emergency food and clothing, shelter assistance and emergency clothing, an increase from more than 300 survivors helped in FY 2019.

ONE FIRE will move from its location inside the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex to the Tahlequah facility, officials said.

“We are just so excited about this move,” ONE FIRE Victim Services Interim Director Shawna Duch said. “With a larger space, our new home office will allow ONE FIRE to elaborate and expand on our cultural healing and life skills programs as well as offer more private office space so that each advocate will have their own office for more private and personal one-on-one with clients.”

ONE FIRE will also add more victim advocates, with 19 employees being fully staffed.

In addition to ONE FIRE’s new headquarters, the new transitional housing facility in Stilwell will include seven apartments featuring a kitchen, living room and bedrooms. It will also have a communal utility room, kids play room as well as a classroom for life coaching sessions and other programs.

Duch said when domestic violence victims choose to leave abusive partners, safe and affordable housing is one of the primary barriers they will face.

“Though emergency shelters can be a source of immediate short-term safety, ONE FIRE Transitional Housing facility can offer victims a housing option and supportive services for up to 12 months,” said Duch. “ONE FIRE Transitional Housing program will give survivors the time and services they need to achieve goals for long-term safety and stability.”

The tribe also plans to build three, three-bedroom homes behind the transitional housing facility. For information on ONE FIRE Victims Services, visit onefire.cherokee.org or call 918-772-4260. To reach ONE FIRE’s emergency helpline, call 1-866-458-5399.

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