Respond • Shelter • Educate
to end sexual and domestic violence in West Texas
Respond • Shelter • Educate… to end domestic and sexual violence in West Texas.
Crisis Center of West Texas provides free services to adult survivors of domestic and sexual violence and their minor children. We exist to help build lives free of violence and to end domestic and sexual violence through community awareness and education.
Crisis Center of West Texas embraces the belief that all individuals should have equal access to political, legal, economic, and civil rights. We strive to create a community that embraces diversity, recognizes oppression, promotes empowerment, and supports the right of all individuals to self-determination. We eagerly work for the day when domestic sexual violence is part of history rather than a part of our daily lives.
Agency History: 1980 – 2018
In August of 1980, a Rape Crisis Task Force was formed by Lt. Bianca Brister of the Odessa Police Department to address the needs of survivors of rape. At a meeting held in January of 1981 at Odessa College, Lt. Brister and Kay Maley Schanzer presented the need for a Rape Crisis Center in Odessa. The dynamic duo pointed out the importance of volunteers, who could respond to the needs of victims as well as to promote sexual assault awareness and personal safety programs. By the end of May 1981, Brister and Schanzer had recruited 78 people, including Lorraine Bonner (now Perryman), the Director of Public Information for ECISD and future mayor of Odessa, and Margaret Burton, city council member and later director of Meals on Wheels. These women and other civic leaders formed the Odessa Task Force to establish a Rape Crisis Center.
By October of 1981, the Task Force had collected more than $22,000. The first Board of Directors was elected to then set the policy and direction of the Center. Bill Duff served as the first President of the nine-member board. The City of Odessa donated space at the Red Cross building on the corner of 3rd and Lee. The city provided office furniture and agreed to pay for utilities. ECISD, El Paso Products, and The City of Odessa provided office supplies. Lt. Brister and Kay Schanzer had acquired volunteers, money, housing, and supplies to open the center in less than one year and without grant money.
The Odessa Rape Crisis Center was incorporated on November 5, 1981. The federal government granted a 501c3 not-for-Profit tax designation in January 1982. Through the leadership and support of The Junior League of Odessa, the WHO (We Help Ourselves) personal safety program became a project of the center. This program was presented to 2nd, 4th and 6th graders in area schools. The center became a member of The United Way of Odessa in 1991 and is also a member of the United Way of Andrews.
Since 1988, the organization has provided services to Ector, Gaines, Ward, Winkler, Andrews, Loving, Reeves and Crane Counties. In 2013, we added Fort Stockton in Pecos County.
In the summer of 2000, a task force was formed to investigate the need for a comprehensive crisis intervention unit as a part of the Rape Crisis Center. At that time, the only victims of violent crime receiving crisis intervention services were the victims of child sexual abuse and sexual assault. By unanimous vote, the board approved development and implementation of a crisis intervention unit in Ector County. The expansion of services served as a catalyst to change the name of the organization. The Odessa Rape Crisis Center adopted the name The Crisis Center as a local “dba-doing business as” entity in 2004. The name was officially changed to Crisis Center of West Texas with the Secretary of State in July 2017.
The organization obtained a building in Odessa suitable to be utilized as a family violence shelter on June 1, 2001. With the help of more than 60 volunteers working over 2,000 hours and with generous contributions from community, we opened Angel House on September 6, 2001. Our first resident entered the doors two hours after we cut the ribbon at the dedication ceremony. In August, after being approached by the city of Fort Stockton, The Crisis Center took over operations at the Lilah B. Smith Safe House. This shelter began official operations in April 2017.
In May 2008, The Crisis Center Board adopted a five-year Strategic Plan to bring The Crisis Center’s mission into clearer focus and to establish guidelines for the accomplishment of these forward reaching goals for the 30th anniversary of the agency. These goals include an expanded the Angel House facility, a seamless counseling service, a transitional housing complex, and an expanded and comprehensive community education awareness and prevention program.
The year 2014 was one of some major changes. The mission of the agency was changed to: Respond – Shelter – Educate …to end domestic and sexual violence in West Texas. This change focused the agency on striving for excellence in the provision of services related to sexual assault and domestic violence throughout our 9-county service area. The administrative offices were moved to free space offered by the City of Odessa. All education programs began using only evidence-based curricula and degreed professionals were employed to expand the programs throughout our 9-county service area. Degreed professionals were also hired as Case Managers to provide direct services to clients. Outreach Offices were established in the communities of Andrews, Seminole, Kermit, Pecos, Fort Stockton and Monahans and a large Outreach Center was opened in Odessa. A counselor was hired to provide services to both adults and children accessing services with our agency and Outreach Advocates were hired to provide weekly on-site services in our outlying, rural Outreach Offices. The PATH (Positive Action Toward Healing) Program was also started at the Odessa shelter in 2014. This program uses art, fitness and a meal, all provided by volunteers, as a way to build resiliency and offer an opportunity for bonding between the non-offending parent and his/her children while they are staying in our shelter. Research tells us that these are some of the best ways to break the cycle of abuse.
The organization began offering a new Batterers Intervention and Prevention Program in 2016. BIPP ReStart is an evidence-based curriculum taught over an 18-week program for men who batter. It is usually court-ordered for offenders, but is also open to men in the public. There is a fee for the course and it is CJAD accredited.
In 2016, Crisis Center of West Texas began a $5 million capital campaign for a new shelter in Odessa, with an anticipated grand opening in December 2018. The Louise Wood Angel House, to be named for the late Louise Wood, a local scholar, entrepreneur, and activist, is funded in part by the Wood Family Foundation, which donated an initial $1 million to jumpstart fundraising efforts. In December 2017, Crisis Center of West Texas broke ground for the shelter on land donated by the City of Odessa that sits adjacent to the current administrative offices.