The Single Door that Inspires Hope and Strength in West County
The West Contra Costa County Family Justice Center (or “Center”) is a one-stop, multi-service center for people affected by domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, elder abuse, and human trafficking. The Center has numerous partners located under one roof, collaborating their efforts to offer streamlined services to people in crisis. This unique business model (concept) allows victims to find hope, safety and healing just by walking through a single door.
I am only one of the partners the victims have access to once they walk through that single door. I have been in an active partnership with the West Contra Costa Family Justice Center since 2016. To date, I have provided various family law focused legal services to the community residing in West Contra Costa County. The services provided range from pro bono consultations to full representation of victims suffering from interpersonal violence. In addition, the Center offers victims of interpersonal violence pro bono consultations in the area of immigration law and can even connect them with needed consumer protections organizations.
Currently, there are two Family Justice Centers in Contra Costa County – one in Richmond, which primarily serves clients in West County and one in Concord that serves clients located in Central County. The West Contra Costa Family Center serves as a beacon of hope to a community that is largely underserved. The Center has served thousands of people in the community since its inception and that number grows exponentially every year as word of mouth inspires other victims to come through that single door. According to the statistics retained by the Family Justice Centers, the Centers overall have seen an annual increase of approximately thirty percent of clients seeking legal services over the past few years.
I have had the opportunity to use my legal background to help members of many communities that desperately need access to legal services. I have the honor of assisting people suffering in silence by giving them a voice. I recall a specific victim who endured domestic violence for several years. She was not only physically and emotionally abused, but she had no access to personal funds or assets because the perpetrator used the couple’s finances as means to not just control her, but to keep her trapped in an extremely toxic relationship. Through the diligent efforts of the partners on site, including but not limited to, the Richmond Police Department, Community Violence Solutions, and STAND — she was finally able to tell her story and begin the hard work of ending the cycle of abuse. I assisted her by completing a request for a domestic violence restraining order on her behalf. We captured her pain by providing extensive details surrounding the incidents of abuse. As she told her story, I could visibly see her taking back some of her power. At the end of our appointment, she seemed relieved and fully aware of the fact that she was a victim caught in a cycle of violence. Eventually, the client was able to secure a domestic violence restraining order for five years. Through the wrap-around services provided by the partnering agencies, she was also able to find temporary housing at a shelter and a support network that provided her necessities to regain her independence. She walked in that single door a victim but walked out a survivor.
The West Contra Costa Family Justice Center has continued to increase the services it offers to its clients beyond crisis intervention. It does so by providing victims access to housing, job training, educational and other services that help them not only to get back up on their feet but to thrive. Susun Kim, the mastermind behind this amazing organization will be opening a Family Justice Center in Antioch this year in an effort to offer these invaluable services to members of the community in East County. That single door is now open to serve the Contra Costa County community as a whole.