FARGO — While the world has been hit hard by the pandemic, groups of people all over the F-M area continue to work harder to ensure everyone has a safe place to "hunker down" and live.
The Rape and Abuse Crisis Center of Fargo-Moorhead is just one of these groups.
"We serve anyone that's been impacted by personal violence," said Maddy Jansky, community advocate for the RACC. "So that's anyone who's surviving domestic violence, surviving sexual assault, surviving human trafficking ... We also serve elder abuse survivors."
In addition to serving survivors of abuse, the RACC provides counseling and therapy for survivors, along with prevention and education programs that begin as early as elementary school for students in the area.
With over 2,500 people served in 2019 alone, the RACC is making an impact all around eastern North Dakota and west-central Minnesota.
But they can't do it alone.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected the Fargo-Moorhead community in so many different ways. Currently, the RACC is seeking donations from the community — specifically in diapers, soaps, gift cards and cell phones.
"We give out 9-1-1 phones to pretty much anyone who comes to our door," Jansky said. "They're a way for people to contact law enforcement safely or reach out for help safely. A lot of the times, when people are in abusive situations, there's either limits on who they can call, sometimes tracking phone use is of concern or having to show the abuser their phone at the end of the day or periodically throughout the day, things like that."
These 9-1-1 phones give survivors an element of freedom and control that's been taken from them.
"Any phone, as long as it can turn on and reach a cell tower, it can reach 9-1-1 on any operating system," said Jansky. "It doesn't have to have minutes on it or anything like that. It can literally be anything. We just ask that it comes with a charger, just so we aren't left trying to figure out finding chargers for them."
Jansky said the RACC gives these 9-1-1 phones to survivors in a pack, after ensuring the phone is wiped clean of all information from the previous user.
"We'll put them in a little Ziploc bag with the phone and charger," she said. "All they need to do is have it turned on and they can keep it wherever they need in order to access it."
In addition to cell phones, the RACC is looking for personal hygiene and personal care items.
"We provide those things (hygiene products, diapers, etc.) primarily because when people are fleeing, they don't have time to reach into their shower and grab shampoo and conditioner," said Jansky. "Maybe you have a chance to grab diapers for your kids, but also maybe you forgot because 'my abuser is coming home in 20 minutes, and I need to get out of here.' So really, we are trying to do that as much as we can."
All services provided by the RACC are confidential and free of charge and open to anyone who has been impacted by abuse — both primary survivors and secondary survivors, which are the friends and family of people who suffer from abuse.
Donations can be brought directly to the RACC, 317 Eighth St. N., Fargo, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Masks are required for drop off, and there is an option for contactless drop off. For more information on the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center of Fargo-Moorhead, visit its website, raccfm.com.