This is the time of year when charities and non-profit organizations really depend on the generosity of people who tend to be more forthcoming with their money and gifts during the Holidays. One of those places in Sioux Falls is the Family Visitation Center. They'll be glad to take cash donations, but what they really want is your cell phone.
TheFamilyVisitationCenter in Sioux Falls opened 9 years ago to offer a safe environment and supervised meeting place for children and their non-custodial parent. Last year they served 700 kids who either came from a situation of domestic abuse, child abuse, a custody battle or one or both parents have been absent from their lives.
Executive Director Aaron Wimmer says, "When that disconnect happens we help to reconnect the children. They will come here we have staff that supervises every visit (we have cameras and audio equipment in each room that is always monitored by staff during the families visit) that way the children can interact with the non-custodial parent or in some cases a parent they don't know that well and they can feel safe.
Wimmer is also sending out a call for help. They want your old cell phones, but not for re-use. They turn them in to a national recycling program who basically wants the batteries.
Wimmer says, "Once we turn in the phones we get points and we use those points to purchase program supplies. Right now we are working on points to purchase little kid furniture. We have big people furniture but we need little kid furniture. When you are a non-profit every little bit helps and this way we can focus our funds on the keeping everyone safe."
Besides cell phones, the Family Visitation Center is also taking old ink cartridges. They suggest you put a box by your printers or fax machines at work and when you have a box full you can drop them off or they'll come pick them up.
Avera McKennan has answered Wimmer's call for help. Jason DiMercurio is in charge of communications for the hospital and says they have almost 500 cell phones on their Verizon account. Every two year they get free upgrades, so all the employees on the account get new phones and the old ones go to the Family Visitation Center. It's a partnership DiMercurio says fits nicely with their mission.
DiMercurio says, "It goes to the social principles of the hospital for community responsibility and taking care of others in our community and making sure the hospital is right there with them."
The Family Visitation Center gets points for old cells, by handing yours over you get points for being charitable and in both cases it points to getting children reconnected with mom or dad safely.
The Center is open 7 days a week near downtown Sioux Falls on East 14th Street across from Sunshine Foods