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Burgess Johnson started as a volunteer in high school and "just fell in love with the work," she said.
During the past year, the organization has seen a dramatic increase in both the number of victims seeking help and the severity of their situations, Burgess Johnson said.
In reality, Burgess Johnson faces the worst of humanity at work every day, helping women escape the most dire and gruesome of circumstances imaginable.
"Who else gets to say they see acts of incredible courage and heroism on a daily basis?" she said. "I do I get to see heroes every day. I feel very fortunate. There's a lot of hope in all that."
Funded by a combination of United Way contributions, government grants and community donations, Helpmate serves about 2,000 people in Buncombe County each year.
"I get to come to work every day and see the very best humanity has to offer, in volunteers, in the people we help," Burgess Johnson said. "I get to see the strength of people who have overcome the insurmountable."
The organization also serves 38 percent more clients per capita than the state average, with about 40 percent less staff than in similar sized counties.
"We see such a strong correlation between bullying in schools and domestic violence," she said. "We have to teach our sons to be nurturing, and teach our daughters what they deserve.
Prevention efforts are the key in turning these trends around, Burgess Johnson said, and starting young is the most important and changeable factor.
April Burgess Johnson is the director of Helpmate, Buncombe County's primary provider of crisis level services for victims of domestic violence and their children.
From July through December, the shelter took 63 percent more crisis calls than it had for that period the previous year. The shelter also saw a 12 percent increase in the number of nights clients were staying, meaning it's taking longer to find safe housing for victims after they arrive.
Asheville Helpmate director sees courage in dire trends
"I wish I had a better answer as to why," she said. "We really weren't going out and marketing differently, so unfortunately we can't attribute it to that."
"I've felt very concerned that the community takes Helpmate for granted," said Buncombe County Commissioner Holly Jones. Harden Crazylight 2.5
"We're having more people with more intense needs, and now we're seeing them staying longer," Burgess Johnson said. "I can tell you the severity of violence we're seeing is Adidas Hi Tops White
But when asked how she keeps from burning out, she seems almost perplexed.
Burgess Johnson has worked at local and state organizations on everything from law enforcement training to volunteer coordination, all of which has been in the domestic violence field.
"It felt like it was work that really mattered," she said. "And in such a tangible way."
Burgess Johnson is the executive director of Helpmate, Buncombe County's emergency shelter for Adidas High Tops Size 14
The Buncombe County Sheriff's Office investigated a record 14 deaths as homicides last year. Almost all of them involved family, extended family members or people who knew each other.
"At the rate they've served clients and the funding they receive they should be commended for operating economically, but there's definitely a tipping point."
a lot more. It's not just that we're seeing a higher number it's more, and it's worse.
The organization offers a 24 hour hotline, crisis counseling, court advocacy and community education, in addition to the county's only emergency shelter for women who have experienced domestic Harden Vol.1 Shoes violence.
victims of domestic violence.
In her first four months at the helm, Burgess Johnson has seen a record high number of homicides with the domestic incident reports to match. The organization faces some of the highest demand they've seen in her 20 years in the field, with less funding than ever.
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