On January 24, 1994, the doors to a small house opened for the first time, becoming a safe place for victims of violence to live free of abuse. The story of Russell House actually started several years earlier when a group of concerned citizens, including Dr. Barbara Russell, a local pediatrician who had witnessed firsthand abuse on children and their mothers, surveyed the community and decided that domestic violence services were needed in our area.
Formed in 1993, Phelps County Family Crisis Services (PCFCS) became a non-profit organization created in order to implement and maintain a shelter for women and their children seeking safety from abuse, to develop supportive services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault and their families, cooperate with existing service providers in advocacy, and to educate the community about the needs of families victimized by abuse.
The Board of Directors coordinated fundraising events, procured a house and land, and secured enough funding and private donations to open and operate the shelter known as Russell House. A small, ranch house was going to be demolished with the expansion of a hospital parking lot, so PCFCS purchased it from the hospital and had it moved near the current shelter location. This house was could to provide shelter to seven victims and it became obvious that a new, larger shelter would be needed quickly.
In order to serve more victims in our region, the Board of Directors successfully conducted a capital campaign in 1996-1997 to provide a larger shelter which was able to increase the residential capacity from seven to 34 residents. That 6,400 square foot, 34-bed shelter was completed in October 1997. Then, in April of 2009, with help from a Foundation, a 4,238 square foot addition to the current shelter was completed allowing more resident beds, four additional offices, an enlarged dining area, and an area for the children’s program. Russell House now can hold up to 64 beds.
PCFCS serves Phelps, Crawford, Dent, and Maries counties making it the umbrella organization for The Women’s Crisis Center in Crawford County which opened in 2005, Dent County Women’s Crisis Center which opened in 2006, and Maries County Women’s Crisis Center which opened in August of 2009.
We operate two 24-hour crisis lines, one for victims of domestic violence and one for victims of sexual assault. Services available include: shelter, domestic and sexual violence support groups, addiction support groups, licensed professional counseling, court advocacy and other educational groups that pertain to parenting and life skills. Russell House staff provides community education about domestic violence and sexual assault to educational, church, civic groups, and to area professionals as requested.
Since opening its door in 1994, Russell House has sheltered over 2116 adults and 1860 children.