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United Way of Lancaster County


Domestic Violence Awareness Month launch highlights expanded housing services, upcoming events

Christine Gilfillan, director of Domestic Violence Services in Lancaster County, speaks at a kickoff event for Domestic Violence Awareness Month at the Ware Center in Lancaster on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022. (Photo: Brian Nguyen | CAP Lancaster)

Lancaster’s Domestic Violence Services, DVS, is launching new initiatives to expand housing services to its clients, Director Christine Gilfillan said Thursday.

Gilfillan announced the programs at the Ware Center in Lancaster during a kickoff event for October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

First, the organization is launching its first housing team. It is in the process of hiring three staff members, whose work will be supported by funding from the U.S. Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The team is specifically devoted to domestic abuse survivors and is expected to begin services on Nov. 1. It will provide trauma-informed services to survivors at each stage of the housing process, Gilfillan said.

The initiative, building on work supported by the Lancaster County Homelessness Coalition in 2021, will help “round out the continuum” of housing options available, which include crisis to rapid rehousing, rapid rehousing and coordinated entry, she said. 

Anna Beasley and Christine Gilfillan (Photo: Brian Nguyen | CAP Lancaster)

In addition, DVS expanded the Bridge House program in 2019 in partnership with The Factory Ministries. The offshoot, Bridge House East, has successfully placed seven women and 14 children in housing since its inception, said Anna Beasley, adult advocacy director at The Factory Ministries. 

“We often hear from survivors that capacity is the biggest issue,” said Patricia Espinosa-Vargas, director of United Way of Lancaster County’s social services hotline, PA 211 East. “So it’s really encouraging to know that [DVS] is getting support from a multitude of service areas to expand and serve more individuals.” 

Several dozen community advocates attended Thursday morning’s event. Gillfillan highlighted the DVS staff members present and emphasized both their commitment to serving their clientele in three ways: Honoring advocates, celebrating survivors and mourning lives lost.

DVS is a program of Community Action Partnership of Lancaster County. Its theme for Domestic Violence Awareness Month is “Connecting the Dots”: A full list of related events being held throughout October can be found on CAP’s website.

The Domestic Violence Services team gathers for a photo. (Photo: Olivia Smucker)