The Gillette Abuse Refuge Foundation (G.A.R.F.) was formed in 1980 as a non-profit corporation designed to tackle the long-term task of developing a network of support services for battered victims in Campbell County.
G.A.R.F. received grants from the University of Wyoming and the American Association of University Women to begin the process of achieving its three goals:To create an advocacy program involving recruiting and training of volunteer advocates to provide supportive crisis counseling on domestic violence. To provide a 24-hour crisis line. To ultimately provide a “safe house” in Gillette where battered victims and their children could go in crisis.
The initial grant money was to be used for a survey in Campbell County to determine if there was, in fact, a need for services. Preliminary results from this survey showed that 30 to 35% of victims polled were being abused.
G.A.R.F. then sought help from the County’s 1% sales tax receipts to institute its programs. In May 1981, the county awarded $68,000 to G.A.R.F.
In January 1982, G.A.R.F. opened its doors and by March was providing full services to victims with the exception of a safe house. Staffed with 12 trained volunteer advocates G.A.R.F. provided services to 62 adult victims and 85 children in the first four months they were open.
In March 1982, G.A.R.F. was chosen to receive funding from the State. This funding allowed G.A.R.F. to pursue a safe house project and in October 1982, G.A.R.F. purchased its first safe house two years ahead of schedule. By the end of its first year G.A.R.F. had provided services to 275 victims and housed 88 women and 119 children in the safe house.
During the 2008/2009 fiscal year, G.A.R.F. provided services to 445 victims and housed 62 adults and 68 children in the safe house, reflecting an increase of 62% since G.A.R.F. began providing services.
Today G.A.R.F. not only continues to provide services to victims of domestic violence and their families but also to victims of sexual assault. G.A.R.F. has 10 staff, 9 board members and 14 volunteers from the community to assist victims.
Shelter is available for female victims and their children. Alternative shelter is available for male victims.
Trained advocates are available 24 hours a day to help individuals explore options; provide emotional support and information on resources available. G.A.R.F. staff can provide assistance to clients with job searching, acquiring job skills, budgeting, parenting, childcare and other life skills.
A number of self-help groups are offered to provide support and information.
G.A.R.F. staff will assist with the filing of Family Violence Protection Orders, Sexual Assault Protection Orders, and Stalking Protection Orders. These provide temporary protection to individuals who are being abused, threatened, or harassed.
G.A.R.F. provides educational presentations concerning domestic violence/sexual assault, stalking, bullying, and GARF services to community organizations, agencies and schools.
This is a state program designed to reimburse individuals for personal expenses obtained as a result of violent crimes.
G.A.R.F.’s Life Skills Coordinator provides services to clients in the Shelter to help them find employment, childcare, and educational opportunities as needed to assist them in starting their lives over free from violence.