The grand opening of Kansas City Anti-Violence Project’s LGBTQ-specific domestic violence shelter was an impassioned night to remember. Located less than a mile away from the bustling strip of clubs and nightlife of Westport, the new building opened its doors to the public on Friday, Jan. 29.
Chair members greeted hundreds of attendees as they were shown unique features of the new location such as a clothing pantry and a large conference room. The bathroom doors boasted glittering purple signs reading “ALL GENDERS,” to exemplify the spirit of equality. The main room was overflowing with attendees, some of them sharing laughter and others shedding tears.
Just before the ribbon cutting ceremony, Doug Riley, founder of KCAVP, delivered a heartwarming speech about what prompted him to stand up against violence. After the premeditated murder of a gaymember of his church, Riley asked a panel of Domestic Violence what they would have done if a man called their hotline seeking help from abuse.
“The responder said ‘nothing’ and for me that was simply not enough,” Riley said. That is how he discovered that even though domestic violence had no gender, resources at the time were blind to violence against certain individuals in the community.
“That really shook me to the core,” Riley said. “[B]ecause that could have been me.”
When asked what he hopes people will take away from the night John Barcomb, KCAVP Board Chair, responded, “The magnitude of the amount of work that is left to be done.”
Although the non-profit organization has been serving the community for over a decade, there is still an ongoing fight against domestic violence, sexual assault and hate crimes in Kansas City.
Unlike the previous undisclosed location of the organization, this new Victim Services Center will have walk-in hours Monday through Friday. Victims of violence will no longer have to go through crisis lines to seek resources in private. Help and hope is stationed right on Pennsylvania Ave.