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More families seek help at local domestic violence shelter

Reported by: Sergio Avila
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Updated: 12/25/2012 6:56 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3) -- This holiday season has been a busy one for those trying to lend a helping hand to struggling families.

The Shade Tree says starting from Thanksgiving, it has seen an influx of children to the shelter like officials have never seen before.

Management at The Shade Tree says any type of stressers like the holidays could lead to an increase in domestic violence.

They say that could be part of the reason for more children ending up at their shelters, but they also feel more people are reporting abuse.

Even with the influx of mothers and their children, The Shade Tree has been handling it well.

The shelter is near capacity, but they do all they can to help anyone who needs it.

As unfortunate as it is to have that need grow, they see it as an encouraging sign because mothers and their children are leaving dangerous situations.

They attribute much of the increase to awareness because people are reporting being in abusive relationships more often.

Desiree Petersen of shade tree tells us there's no sign of that need slowing down.

“Usually it's about maybe 90 to 95 children we're seeing on an average week,” Petersen said. “I would say starting Thanksgiving around the holiday we saw an increase of children up to about 120, 130.”

Petersen says they have women as young as 18 and as old as 73 at the shelter.

Vera Johnson and her 3-year-old daughter, Dericka, came to the shade tree just a few months ago. She saw it as an opportunity to get back on her feet.

“They've been very helpful with me,” Johnson said. ”Now I'm working, and now I'm just trying to save some money and get in to my own place.”

On this Christmas day, volunteers from the Jewish Federation were serving up a holiday meal for these women and their children.

Although they're struggling, Johnson says these acts of kindness are uplifting.

“They have a lot of different places that come out here and provide their services and give us a good comfort feeling of that somebody out there cares, and it's wonderful,” Johnson said.



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