A for sale sign in front of a house caused Nicole Hoffman to work on starting a shelter for the victims of domestic abuse.
“I was planning on doing this when my kids were older,” said Hoffman, who has two young children. “I’ve always had a soft spot for victims.”
That is among the reasons she works in law enforcement.
Hoffman is a part-time police officer for the Weyauwega Police Department and has been with the Waupaca County Sheriff Department’s reserves for two years.
It was last September that she began working in Weyauwega and saw a large house for sale. The house had three kitchens in it and six bedrooms, with the potential for eight bedrooms. She thought it would be the perfect house for a domestic abuse shelter in the county.
Hoffman received input about her idea from both members of the Weyauwega Police Department and the sheriff’s department, learning that she first needed to get a board together.
She did so and serves as the chairwoman of it, with Jerry Poltrock of the Weyauwega Police Department serving as treasurer and Scott Lewis of the sheriff’s department serving as vice chairman.
Their goal is to raise money for a shelter that will be called “Jurnie’s Shelter.”
Presently, Waupaca County does not have a domestic abuse shelter for women. Hoffman believes there is a need for one, noting that in 2009, eight women from Waupaca County stayed more than 200 days in a shelter in Portage County.
“Waupaca County had 301 reported domestics in 2009. Portage County had 54 reported in 2009,” she said.
After the board formed last year, it initially met weekly and now meets monthly. Its bylaws are written, and they are in the process of applying for nonprofit status.
Hoffman said if anyone can help with that process or is a present nonprofit that is willing to have Jurnie’s Shelter be under their umbrella, they may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hoffman has visited other shelters and in talking to women wants Jurnie’s Shelter to be a place where they feel comfortable.
She is pleased to have law enforcement on board and said that people often stereotype domestic abuse.
“No domestic is the same,” she said.
But Hoffman says the process of how it often evolves is textbook. The No. 1 reason why women do not leave when they are in such a situation, she said, is because they do not have a place to go to. Many times, the women are embarrassed to tell or involve their families, she said.
Hoffman is often asked how she came up with the name “Jurnie’s Shelter.”
The name of her daughter is Jurnie, and Hoffman said that if her own daughter was some day in such a situation and did not feel she could talk to her about it, she would want her daughter to be able to leave the situation and go to a safe place. That is why she chose that name.
Educating the public about domestic abuse is the first step in getting a shelter started, Hoffman believes.
“If you haven’t been a victim, you probably know someone who was,” she said.
Since working to open such a shelter, the house she saw last fall in Weyauwega has been sold. However, Hoffman continues to keep her eyes open as to other possibilities in the county.
Donations can be sent to Jurnie’s Shelter at P.O. Box 404, Weyauwega, WI 54983.
Businesses such as Culver’s and Curves for Women, both in Waupaca, have held fundraisers, and containers for donations are in many businesses.
“It’ll be really good to see. The community needs it. Obviously, the numbers show it,” Hoffman said. “It’s going to happen. It’s just a manner of when.”