Every October, the state of Texas releases a snapshot of every person who lost their life to domestic violence during the previous year — their name, age, county and three or four sentences about that person and how they lost their life.
“When I got that report, the first name I saw was a 67-year-old woman. It made me stop and pause,” Christina Allen told more than 30 Rotarians at their weekly meeting via Zoom Oct. 14. “She was killed in the nursing home by her husband.”
That name, and 184 more names, brought to life for Allen the challenge that she encounters daily as CEO of FamilyTime, the crisis and counseling center in Humble. FamilyTime is one of 10 Lake Houston-area, not-for-profit organizations that are receiving financial gifts from the Rotary Club of the Lake Houston Area.
“For the last 10 years, the number of family violence victims has increased. This year, the number was up by 12,” Allen told the Rotarians, “and Harris County has the highest number of victims — 35 last year. The oldest was 91 and the youngest was 17. If you think you don’t know a victim of domestic violence, it probably is because they haven’t told you.”
Allen outlined the challenges not-for-profits are facing in the age of COVID-19. Some have had to close their doors because, without access to traditional fundraisers, they haven’t been able to raise the funds required to operate.
None of FamilyTime’s 42 employees have tested positive and there were no cases among shelter families either, “ … one of the few shelters in Texas that can claim that in spite of our shelter’s communal living,” she said. “I can’t take credit for any of that.”
Allen told Rotarians she is a native of Texas City, “… I have no ill will to refineries. They treated my Dad well.” She is a UT-Austin graduate in English and Spanish and a graduate of the UT Law School. As a student lawyer, she was an advocate for domestic violence victims and, prior to joining FamilyTime, was in charge of corporate and foundation relations for the Houston Area Women’s Center, giving her more than 20 years of experience as an advocate, attorney, researcher and teacher in domestic violence.
Pre-COVID, FamilyTime provided shelter for 38 adults with their children. Now the shelter has been reduced to accommodate seven adults with their children.
“What a challenge we face. I get a call every day from someone fearful for their life, but we’re full,” Allen admitted. “We reach out to other agencies knowing they are full, too.”
The next few months will be a challenge, Allen said, “as we begin to open, the abused are reaching out to us. And, with the holidays coming up, families always have ‘relative and in-law problems’ that require counseling.”
During the meeting, Allen announced a three-year federal grant that will allow FamilyTime to devote two staff members to assist victims of human trafficking. She estimates FamilyTime will be able to assist at least 100 clients over the next three years.
“There is one word I say over and over — excellence,” Allen said. “Whatever we do must be done at a level of excellence, always going above and beyond for our clients. They must feel safe. They must be empowered. They must have a plan.”
“I am so honored to lead FamilyTime,” she concluded.
Rotary President Mike Kevlin announced that the club’s name change was approved by Rotary International and, in November, will be called the Rotary Club of the Lake Houston Area.
To learn more, visit humblerotary.com.