For a majority of 2011, the Salvation Army’s domestic violence shelter was full. Unfortunately, the trend has continued in 2012.

During an interview for Red Shield Radio, Pamela Fleck, shelter director, said domestic violence was still on the rise causing the shelter to use overflow rooms to accommodate the influx of women and children. Young women aging out of the foster care system paired with human trafficking have also lead to higher capacity numbers at shelters. Last year alone, more than 1,900 homeless and abused women and children received care from the Indianapolis-based shelter.

Women and children get more than just a safe place to rest their heads when they walk through the doors of the shelter because the Ruth Lilly Women and Children Services Center is much more than just another shelter.

From transitional housing to continuing support programs like child care services, the Ruth Lilly center helps women get back on their own feet.

The center also gives children a sense of hope through programs like Summer of Wonder, an educational day camp-like program that keeps children busy with different activities like crafts, Zumba and swimming.

“We don’t know where they’ve (the children) been,” Fleck said. “We give the kids hope.”

Recently, Fleck was touched by the response of a girl living at the center.

“I asked her if she was ready for it (the Summer of Wonder),” Fleck said. “She said, ‘Oh yes, I am.’ And I asked her what her favorite part was. She said going to the park. She’s 5-years-old and has never been to the park.”

An updated playground also helped put smiles on the children’s faces. (Thanks to Jim Brantley for his help!)

“The kids are using and loving it,” Fleck said. “Before, no one over the age of 10 was on it but now 14- and 15-year-olds are on the equipment.”

Up next for the children is career day. Fleck said she hopes to get different speakers to come in and tell the children about their jobs.

If you’re interested in career day or helping the Ruth Lilly center, please contact Pam Fleck.