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LETTER: Help CVIC continue to make a difference

GRAND FORKS — As chair of the Community Violence Intervention Center’s Building Hope Campaign, it has been my privilege to see the many individuals, families, companies and churches that have come together to meet the need for CVIC’s shelter — a need that has grown 50 percent over the past five years.

CVIC’s shelter lease will end in two years, and the current building no longer will be available to provide safety for those harmed by violence.

As we cross the halfway mark to the $2.8 million goal of our Building Hope Campaign, I find myself reflecting on the many supporters who are making the shelter a reality and on all that I’ve learned in the past few months.

For years I had been aware of CVIC, but I had no idea of the full impact that CVIC has on our community.

Some of my favorite programs are the offender treatment program, New Choices, where we see a 70 percent decrease in 911 calls from an offender’s home in the two years after completing the program. And the multi-agency Safer Tomorrows Initiative, where all K-12 students in Grand Forks County are receiving messages of respect and positive relationships.

Before becoming closely involved with CVIC, I also did not grasp the significant financial benefit that this organization provides. CVIC saved Grand Forks city and county more than $742,000 in 2013 through its public safety and violence prevention services. Included is an estimated $227,000 savings through CVIC’s shelter.

Last year, CVIC sheltered 117 people, who, according to national data, were at a 75 percent greater risk of being killed when leaving the violent relationship. Without CVIC’s shelter, our community would carry the crucial and costly responsibility of providing protection during crisis. We are lucky CVIC fills this gap and does it well.

I am honored to chair the Building Hope Campaign, and I thank all the people who have decided to be a part of something greater than themselves, collectively working to provide safety and freedom to those in need. I invite Herald readers who have not yet had the chance to support this worthy cause to join us in building this vitally needed shelter.

Karl Bollingberg

Bollingberg, director of banking services at Alerus Financial, chairs the Community Violence Intervention Center’s Building Hope Campaign.