Emily Jo Cureton, The Triplicate

Oostra honoredfor efforts againstdomestic violence

Rural Human Services Executive Director Teri McCune Oostra has been awarded the 2012 Karen Cooper Lifetime Achievement Award by the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence.

"Thanks to people like her we can have a domestic violence resource center with comprehensive domestic violence services and an emergency shelter in our town," Jodi Hoone told the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday after it proclaimed October Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Hoone is the director of RHS' Harrington House, the only shelter in the county for people facing violence in their home. McCune Oostra was vital to its founding in 2004.

McCune Oostra's work through RHS first began in 1986, when local services for victims of domestic violence were very limited and prevention programs were virtually non-existent.

"I was a former victim of domestic violence. I set out at the time and no one knew anything about it. It was something you'd see someone in the mental health department about," McCune Oostra said this week.

At the county meeting, Hoone spoke about the strides made toward awareness, prevention and victim services since then, especially crediting McCune Oostra's 26 years of dedication to the work.

"Thirty-one years ago the only domestic violence service in Del Norte County was a simple hot-line service, run through Rural Human Services by dedicated volunteers. Thanks to our community and many dedicated individuals, our current Harrington House was created," Hoone said.

No one from a rural community has ever received the Karen Cooper Lifetime Achievement award before. The honor brings attention to "a huge partnership of people," and signifies "rural communities being recognized for how hard they have to work, and usually with a lot less resources," McCune Oostra said in a telephone interview.

"Last year Harrington House provided victims of domestic violence and their children with 2,708 shelter nights; 8,115 meals; 5,471 individual and group counseling sessions; and over 100 domestic violence prevention presentations in classrooms; providing services for over 1,010 victims of domestic violence," said Hoone at the county meeting.

McCune Oostra also stood at the podium Tuesday, her voice quavering as she said:

"I'd like to say thank you for all the support, all these years that you've given Harrington House."

McCune Oostra will be retiring from RHS at the end of December to work full-time with her husband, Kees Oostra, at their business, The Dutch Gardener.

Reach Emily Jo Cureton at ecureton@triplicate.com.