The History of Mainstay

In January 1984, a group from Trinity Presbyterian Church, working with the Reverend Albert Kissling, organized The Women’s Crisis Ministry in Hendersonville. The purpose of the organization was to help women deal with such crises as divorce and widowhood. A director, Helen Redden, was hired, and The Women’s Crisis Ministry was incorporated and tax-exempt status was secured. In the beginning the organization was basically a referral agency. It offered a support group for divorced women, and served a total of 90 women in its first 18 months of operation. Paralleling Women’s Crisis Ministry, an organization adopting the name Mainstay was also formed. Its mission was to help battered women.

In 1985 the two groups merged under the guidance of Renee Kumor, Naomi Daen Claque, and Charlotte Buller and continued under the name Mainstay, Inc. In November 1985, the first director for the new organization was hired and the county donated office space in the old Henderson County Courthouse. As the agency’s reputation grew, an increasing number of women came to the agency for assistance. Individuals and groups recognized the growing needs and responded with donations that allowed Mainstay to assist more families and to expand its services for victims of domestic violence. Volunteers were recruited and trained to provide these services. Cooperation with law enforcement agencies and the legal system was developed. A program to help abusers was initiated. Paid staff positions were added as the budget and need for them allowed.

1986-1990

On August 15, 1986, Mainstay purchased a house off Haywood Road and moved to this new location. Offices and a playroom were provided at the new acquisition. Two floors of the house were utilized as a shelter for abused women and their children. A few years later an adjacent building was purchased for use as an administration building.

A Mainstay re-sale store was opened on Barnwell Street in 1990 to help raise funds to support the needed programs. In 1992, the store was moved to Fourth Avenue East.

1991-2000

In March 1995, the building housing the Mainstay shelter was destroyed by fire, and in April a temporary shelter was set up downtown. The community rallied with support and a new facility at 125 South Main Street was opened on April 21, 1996. Administrative offices, the agency re-sale store and a shelter for women and children were all located under one roof for the first time.

2001-2010

In 2006, Mainstay opened Transitional Housing which consists of 4 apartments with 2 bedrooms each. Women completing the shelter program apply to move into Transitional Housing while they work toward locating permanent housing and continue to work on their goals.

In 2008, Mainstay moved to it's current location at 133 Fifth Avenue West. The new location allowed Mainstay to add a drop-in daycare, and space for additional services.

2011-2013

In 2011, Mainstay expanded services and shelter by renting the upper portion of the building located at 210 Fifth Avenue West. The new section is the Family Services Outreach Center where outreach groups are held including Nurturing Parenting, Teen Outreach and Support Groups. Due to increasing need, Mainstay was able to increase it's shelter capacity to 35 beds.

In May 2013, Mainstay opened the Dandelion, a local eatery. The Dandelion is the cornerstone of the job training program. The internship program provides for victims of violence and an educational and supportive environment for those who may be at risk. Participants gain experience and strengthen interpersonal skills while receiving additional services for themselves and their families. These internships help create financial stability for trauma victims while bulding workforce development within our community.

2014-2015

In October 2014, Mainstay and partnering agencies opened the Family Justice Center. The Family Justice Center is a community partnership to help adult victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, elder abuse and other forms of intimate partner violence. Advocates empower, educate and counsel victims and survivors through emotional support, safety planning, case management services, and advocacy within medical, court, child welfare and other systems of care.

In December 2015, the Believe Child Advocacy Center is opened. The Believe Child Advocacy Center provides services to children for interpersonal violence, sexual assault and adverse childhood experiences. Staff work with medical providers, law enforcement, Department of Social Services, the District Attorney’s offi ce and additional partners to provide crisis intervention, conduct forensic interviews, medical exams and offer emotional support and counseling.

Services currently include a 24-hour Response Line and emergency shelter, individual counseling for adult victims and their children, support groups, case management, weekly court-ordered educational programs for male abusers (in Spanish and Eng.) and for females (English), victim’s advocacy, a quarterly newsletter, community educational programs, and training for volunteers and staff. Proceeds from our re-sale store, The Purple Ribbon, help fund Mainstay services. The store also serves as a source of clothing for victims who flee their homes without their personal possessions. At the present time, Mainstay is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A broad range of services, provided by a small paid staff and over 100 dedicated volunteers, are available to the individuals and families that we serve. Mainstay continues to rely on the generosity of the community for donations of money, time, and goods for our shelter, store, and other programs.

Over time, Mainstay has evolved from a strictly crisis-driven agency to one striving to develop longer-term services addressing community needs such as low-income housing and the unavailability of medical, mental health and substance abuse resources, especially for the uninsured. An additional concern is the risk to children who are homeless due to domestic violence or poverty.

Today Mainstay serves nearly 1000 individuals yearly and operates the largest domestic violence shelter in Western North Carolina.

Funded By:

United Way
Council For Women
Family Violence Prevention Services Program

Thank you to United Way, the Family Violence Prevention Services Program, US DHHS, and NC Council for Women for financial support.