Stocking the pantry

Alana White, CAPSEA shelter manager, diligently stocks a pantry shelf. The organization is currently renovating the shelter to make it more pandemic friendly.

As the pandemic continues and cases of COVID-19 continue to rise, so has the need for victims resource services. In the midst of this crisis, agencies such as CAPSEA, which provides victims services to Elk and Cameron Counties, have seen an influx of calls to their hotline and emergency shelter, as well as a doubled increase in referrals for specialized trauma counseling services.

“We’ve seen a huge increase in the number of people calling us and seeking help,” said Billie Jo Weyant, CAPSEA’s executive director, adding that this is the largest increase of calls in the 31 years she’s been with the organization.

Weyent explained that calls went down greatly from March through early June, possibly because people were on lockdown and afraid to reach out.

“Things got very quiet; we actually closed our agency and we all started working remotely from home,” she said. “We went back into the office at the beginning of June. From then until today, we’ve seen our hotline calls and all of our calls for services go through the roof.”

In order to reach a more diverse population, the organization decided now was a good time to extend its outreach by revamping its look and website.

“We needed to update and started strategic and succession planning a year ago,” explained Weyant. “The website wasn’t very interactive. We needed a different look so we could reach the younger populations.”

The newly revamped website includes an updated logo and promotes how CAPSEA can now provide services by phone and a HIPAA compliant Zoom forum. The organization has also incorporated masking, wearing gloves, social distanced seating, sneeze guards and staggering staffing patterns for those who still wish to visit in person.

Additionally, CAPSEA has entered the age of social media, with interconnected Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

CAPSEA is currently in the process of remodeling their shelter, as it’s a small three bedroom house, which is not feasible to use at this point due to the inability of patrons to social distance. With the uncertainty of funding for 2021 looming, they have launched a community outreach to raise money, which will go towards things such as shelter costs, professional group training sessions and further expansion of services.

There are numerous ways to help the organization with outreach this holiday season, such as making a monetary donation to help them reach their goal of $5,000, volunteering, donating a new or gently used toy or even donating an item on their Amazon wish list. More information on volunteering and donations can be found on the CAPSEA website at