After years of operating Austin Street Center, a homeless shelter in Dallas, TX, Shelter Ministries of Dallas became aware of the unique needs and vulnerabilities of abused women and children seeking their services. In January 1985, Shelter Ministries of Dallas began operating Genesis Women’s Shelter & Support as a safe haven for these victims of domestic violence. After a yearlong struggle to choose a location, the City of Dallas generously provided a seven-bedroom site for the Shelter at a cost of only $1 per year – the Shelter remains at this undisclosed location to date. Through the collaborative efforts of First Presbyterian Church of Dallas (Grace Union Presbyterian) and the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas, Genesis Women's Shelter was opened, and today, Board representation remains equally divided between these two groups.
The need for Genesis' Emergency Shelter was so great that it consistently operated at capacity with a full waitlist. Since an available room can mean the difference between life and death, plans for expansion began, with groundbreaking on a new Shelter wing occurring in January 1988. Once the new wing was opened, it was immediately at capacity as well, and the Shelter’s size and population instantly doubled. As needs increased, staff size multiplied, a formal full-time therapeutic children’s program began operating, and the women’s program expanded to include 24-hour crisis telephone counseling, group and individual therapy, positive parenting classes, and professional casework.
By 1993, it became apparent that there was an unmet need for victims of domestic violence who were not fleeing immediate danger, but would benefit from the counseling and case management aspects of our program. In order to address this growing population, the Genesis Outreach Office opened its doors with just one counselor, and has now expanded four times in response to the need for these services. We now have 20 staff therapists in our Outreach Counseling Program, and despite the 17,000 clinical counseling hours we provide each year, we currently have a waitlist of over 200 women seeking our expert counseling.
Another unmet need of many Genesis families was longer-term housing once they completed the 6-week Shelter program. In response to this, Annie’s House was opened directly behind the Shelter to allow families a 12-month transitional housing program with more time to complete their goals and save for independent living.
In 2008, the Genesis On-Site Alternative School (The Simmons School
) was also opened on our safe campus to provide children a safe educational environment while they are residents at the Shelter.
Each year, the programs at Genesis continue to expand in response to the increased need for our services. Our outreach counselors see an average of 1,300 women and children each year, and our Shelter houses 650 women and children annually. The families who walk through our doors are escaping unspeakable violence, and our goal is to provide them with all the tools they need. From the moment a woman picks up the phone to call the hotline, to her arrival at the Shelter, to ongoing counseling for her and her children, Genesis Women's Shelter & Support is there to help her navigate the difficult road and achieve success she once only dreamed possible.