Many women who escape violent relationships often have no place to go. That's where the Women's Shelter of East Texas comes in.
There are safe houses in Nacogdoches and Houston Counties, but a third facility in Lufkin is needed primarily because the centralized location could better serve women and families from a nine-ounty area.
Funding for the project is coming from proceeds from a thrift store in Lufkin. Steppin' Out, in Lufkin's Chestnut Village Shopping Center, is essential to Lufkin's effort to build a safe house.
Inside, manager Sherri Thompson sets up a mini department store. She strives to make your shopping experience pleasant. "We have a variety of anything that might interest someone. We have clothes to furniture. We also have full-figure clothing in our store, [and a] menagerie of books and nooks. We have a quaint little area where you can sit and read."
There's even a place for the kids to play while the adults shop. WSET Assistant Director Josalyn Penner frequently stops in the shop. "I like to shop here. You can find good deals and there's always lots of variety."
Steppin' Out is far removed from the scary environment that battered women attempt to escape. WSET Board Member Linda Poland said, "They get out in the cover of darkness when they are able to get out and make that break. Poland is leading the effort to raise money for the Lufkin safe house.
"If we have one here, the ladies know that they don't have to cross into another county. Their children can stay in schools here in Angelina County. If they have jobs, they can maintain their jobs here in Angelina County."
Last year, the Nacogdoches and Crockett safehouses provided shelter for 446 victims of family violence and sexual assault. Frequently, half the occupants staying there at any given night are from Angelina County.
There's already donated land for the house. Your purchase at Steppin' Out can raise the rest for construction. WSET Public Relations Director Joann Black said, "100% of the proceeds from the store come back into the agency, so our clients benefit from this. The community benefits from this."
Knowing this makes your purchase at Steppin' Out or at any of the other shelter thrift stores more significant than just finding a good bargain.