By Shereen Siewert
Jane Graham Jennings, executive director of The Women’s Community in Wausau, will address the Marathon County Board on Tuesday to discuss the impact planned funding cuts will have on the organization.
The Women’s Community is one of several nonprofit organizations whose funding will be eliminated in phases beginning in 2020. The county budget calls for a 25 percent reduction next year, which amounts to $13,750. In the past, The Women’s Community has typically seen $75,000 in annual funding by the county.
But that loss, Graham Jennings said, is just the tip of the iceberg; The county grants allow the organization to receive additional state funding of about $180,000 that will be eliminated as well if the proposed cuts go through.
“There is a ripple effect,” Graham Jennings said. “Unless we find a way to replace that deficit, programs will go away.”
The Women’s Community serves men, women and children who are sexually assaulted, stalked, trafficked, or subjected to emotional, mental, physical, sexual and verbal abuse.
Graham Jennings said the cuts will impact the county in other ways, some of which can be hard to measure. In her 20-year tenure as executive director, the community has seen 16 domestic violence homicide cases, all of which cost the county and taxpayers money — not to mention the human cost of such tragedies.
“We can’t say exactly how many homicides we are possibly preventing, but we can say our services have prevented at least two homicides a year,” Graham Jennings said.
The Women’s Community is urging supporters to attend the Oct. 22 Marathon County Board meeting to show support, and to wear purple — the color that signifies support for October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Funding for other organizations including United Way, Crime Stoppers, the Boys and Girls Club and the Marathon County Historical Society is also being phased out.
The final budget will be adopted in November.