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Local victims of domestic violence could receive more and better care thanks to a new grant.

The Blue Shield of California Foundation recently awarded the Kings Community Action Organization a $15,000 grant to improve their ability to serve victims of domestic violence in Kings County. Blue Shield, the foundation’s parent company, is a health insurance provider.

“We are always extremely happy when we have the opportunity to enhance our services,” said KCAO Executive Director Jeff Garner. “When we receive these kinds of grants, it adds so much value to the services and programs we offer. Without these types of partnerships, it would be hard to offer the kinds of services we provide.”

The organization runs the Barbara Saville Women’s Shelter in Hanford, which provides room and board for women and children under the age of 13 who are seeking protection from domestic violence or are homeless because of unforeseen circumstances.

KCAO also provides a 24-hour crisis hotline, rape counseling, a rape prevention education program and more.

“Their role in the community is absolutely essential, and we are committed to ensuring they have the resources they need to continue serving domestic violence survivors and their families,” said Peter Long, president and CEO of the Blue Shield Foundation, in a statement.

Joey Cox, director of the shelter, said most of the new grant money is going to support the shelter. He said it will be used for building and room repairs, staff training, purchasing food and any other needs that the shelter has.

Cox said the organization has a year to spend the money. No timeline was given as to when it will start being used.

“As the only domestic violence shelter in Kings County, it’s always exciting to get additional money to help us support these women and kids when they come to us for help,” Cox said. “We’ll get to work on things that haven’t gotten much attention recently.”

This isn’t the first time the organization has received grants from Blue Shield. KCAO has gotten grant money from them over the past four years, allowing them to make improvements to the shelter, such as a new kitchen as well as the hiring of several additional staff.

Cox said the grant money makes a big difference. Although the shelter is funded by the state, he said there are quite a few restrictions in how the money can be used, such as significant expansion or improvements.

“Blue Shield money is unrestricted, so we can use it for the things we can’t use state funds for,” he said. “Making these improvements help us do our job better.”

Blue Shield grants are given out to other providers of domestic violence services statewide each year in an effort to end domestic violence.

The reporter can be reached at 583-2429 or jluiz@hanfordsentinel.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @JosephL_HS.

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