HOUGHTON - Dial Help celebrated its past accomplishments and previewed upcoming plans at its 41st anniversary dinner at Michigan Technological University Thursday night.
The keynote speaker was Beth Jukuri, who discussed her experiences with overcoming sexual abuse. She recalled finding out her father was charged with sexually assulting her niece, which she said made her realize he had done something similar to her.
"For the first time in my life, I made sense," she said.
Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette
Left, An-gel Kenneally, far left, and Rebecca Crane of Dial Help present flowers to keynote speaker Beth Jukuri following her speech at Dial Help’s annual dinner Thursday.
The second-oldest of 14 children, she is now only in contact with one brother.
Jukuri is founding the group WIND (Women In New Directions), dedicated to helping other female survivors of abuse move forward.
"The silence, all it does is help the perpetrator," she said.
The group will have its first meeting 6 p.m. Aug. 21 at the Houghton City Center.
Rebecca Crane, executive director of Dial Help, said the most common calls relate to mental health and addiction issues, which are at 20 percent each.
"It's pretty consistent year to year," she said.
One change is the number of suicide-related calls, which at 6 percent is 30 percent higher than the previous year.
Next, Dial Help plans to launch a crisis texting program; many people, especially 13- to 17-year-old, are more likely to text than make a phone call. A crisis center in Minnesota that instituted a similar program went from two calls a month to three people per day reaching out through texts.
Through a grant from the Keweenaw Community Foundation, Dial Help also launched the Kayak Youth Adventure Program.
"We'll be able to keep running this program all summer long for years to come," Crane said.
Victim services programs include a 24/7 mobile response team, counseling advocacy and Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners program. The SANE program launched in 2001, and remains the only 24/7 program in the U.P. Crane thanked nurse examiners Mary Peters and Kelly Engle, who have logged an estimated 34,000 hours.
By a conservative estimate, Dial Help has served more than 200,000 people, and put more than $340,000 back into the local economy, Crane said.
Funding needs that remain include a new roof for the building, the restoration of the 24-hour crisis line and the planned Child Advocacy Center. Instead of having a child who is believed to have been abused interviewed multiple times by police, nurse examiners and others, one person will conduct the interviews while others listen from another room, where they can communicate through an earpiece to the interviewer.
"The idea is to lessen the amount of revictimization," Crane said.
Tom Rosemurgy, detective sergeant with the Houghton County Sheriff's Office, commended on he work Dial Help has done.
"We all are working for a common goal, and that's to make things better for the kids, the victims, the families," he said.