ASPEN nonprofit provides toys and shelter during the Christmas season

Samantha Hill

While some enjoy Christmas festivities, volunteers for ASPEN will be making sure area women are safe during a stressful time of year.

ASPEN (Abuse Support Prevention Education Network) is a Livingston nonprofit that offers crises counseling, support and emergency shelter for women and children escaping from domestic or sexual violence. The facility is open every day of the year regardless of the holidays.

Director Heidi Barrett said volunteers will be manning the crises line 24/7 during Christmastime because despite some of the joys the holidays bring, it can also be a financial and emotional roller coaster for many families.

Barrett said this is one of the busiest times for crises centers, including ASPEN, and will continue this way for a while.

“The most calls that centers receive all year is on Super Bowl Sunday,” she said, adding that heavy drinking as well as other factors play a role in this.

As a way to keep the season brighter for those in the shelter, Barrett said workers have decorated the area with lights. The center has also received toy donations for children and money that went toward a large amount of everyday supplies like paper towels and soap.

Keeping people safe is a priority for the center. She said ASPEN is in contact with other shelters across the state in case there are more people who need housing.

Barrett said ASPEN has also received a grant to put people up in hotels if needed.

“That has been a really big help to us,” she said.

For those seeking assistance with domestic or sexual violence through the holidays or any time of year may call the crises line at 222-8154.