After 27 years of unwavering commitment to supporting survivors of domestic and sexual violence from southwest Missouri, Freedom’s Rest Family Violence Center, formerly known as the Christian County Family Crisis Center, has announced its closure effective Oct. 1, 2023.
Since its founding in 1996, Freedom’s Rest has been a beacon of hope for individuals and families affected by domestic and sexual violence, having served more than 15,000 survivors and children in need over nearly three decades. Situated in Christian County, the shelter extended its services across an 11-county region in southwest Missouri, with the largest majority of survivors coming from the Springfield/Greene County area.
The decision to close Freedom’s Rest Family Violence Center stems from challenges that have emerged over recent years following the COVID-19 pandemic. These include reduced demand for shelter services in the Ozark area due to limited access to public transportation, decreased funding and ongoing staffing difficulties in the post-pandemic environment. Additionally, the shelter has grappled with the increasing costs related to the operations of the facility.
In 2004, Freedom’s Rest took a proactive step to secure funding through earned income by establishing Neat Repeats Thrift Store. Over the years, this initiative has flourished into two locations, earning a reputation as the leading boutique-style thrift store in the region and annually receiving and repurposing an estimated 500 tons of donated goods.
Freedom’s Rest Family Violence Center has partnered with the Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks to keep the store locations open. This collaboration resulted in the transfer of ownership of the two Neat Repeats store locations in Ozark and Springfield. This will ensure that the stores continue serving the community and that the spirit of giving and support lives on through Neat Repeats. The organization’s remaining assets have been transferred to other area nonprofits that benefit survivors, including Sammy’s Window, Dogwood Ranch and Legal Services of Southern Missouri.
Tammy Sprouse, the current Chairman of the Freedom’s Rest Family Violence Center Board of Directors, reflected, “We are incredibly appreciative for the opportunity we’ve had to invest in southwest Missouri all these years. We will forever be grateful to the many individuals, families and organizations who’ve walked beside us in supporting survivors of abuse. The Freedom’s Rest legacy lives on through the many lives that have been touched, along with the continuation of Neat Repeats Boutique Thrift Stores by the Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks.”
While the emergency shelter facility has officially closed its doors as of Oct. 1, 2023, Freedom’s Rest remains committed to providing referrals to survivors of domestic and sexual violence through the end of the year.
While there remains a need for emergency shelters in southwest Missouri and Christian County, many area shelters have grown their capacity to serve survivors of domestic and sexual abuse in the region since the opening of Freedom’s Rest Family Violence Center. Survivors in the Christian County area are encouraged to seek support by calling area shelters such as Harmony House in Springfield at 417-864-SAFE, the Crisis Center of Taney County near Branson at 866-379-0074, the Polk County House of Hope in Bolivar at 417-399-6744, or Harbor House Domestic Violence Center in Kimberling City at 877-507-7233. Support is also available by contacting the National Domestic Violence Hotline by phone at 800-799-SAFE or by chat online at www.thehotline.org. Freedom’s Rest will maintain its phone system through Dec. 31, 2023, to forward survivors to alternate resources available in and near the community.
“The impact of Freedom’s Rest Family Violence Center on the lives it has touched over nearly three decades of service cannot be overstated,” Sprouse said. “The Freedom’s Rest Board of Directors expresses heartfelt gratitude to its dedicated staff, volunteers, donors and the community for their enduring support throughout this journey. We are especially grateful to Carole Collins and the late Clifton Collins, who have generously provided the building to house our emergency shelter over all these years. Freedom’s Rest has provided hope for thousands of survivors because of the commitment of the Collins family and the many volunteers and donors who have generously shared their time and resources.”
The closure announcement was delayed to protect the safety of clients and the facility. Following the vote by the Board of Directors to close the facility, Freedom’s Rest staff worked with clients in the shelter over a period of time to secure safe housing and resources. As a result, survivors were not abruptly relocated or asked to leave the facility and have continued to receive support services during the transition.
If you or someone you know has been impacted by domestic or sexual violence, you are not alone. Support is available by contacting local resources or the National Domestic Violence Hotline by phone at 800-799-SAFE or by chat online at www.thehotline.org.