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Chicago Only Has 150 Beds For Domestic Violence Survivors. A West Town Restaurant Owner Wants To Change That

Funkenhausen’s Daniella Caruso is asking restaurant and bar owners to do more to support Chicago’s oldest domestic violence charity.

The Industry Night fundraiser started with Daniella Caruso, co-owner of West Town German restaurant Funkenhausen.
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WEST TOWN — Earlier this year, Funkenhausen’s Daniella Caruso rallied more than 70 members of Chicago’s restaurant and bar scene to raise nearly $20,000 for victims of domestic violence.

Now, during Domestic Violence Awareness month, Caruso is back at it — only this time, she’s asking restaurant and bar owners to do more to support Connections for Abused Women and their Children, Chicago’s oldest domestic violence charity.

The West Town business owner is leading 45 restaurant and bars in a series of education and awareness initiatives. She hopes they will raise awareness of the need for there to be more support for victims of domestic violence in Chicago and will highlight the lack of beds for women and children fleeing life-threatening situations.

“In Chicago, a city of roughly 3 million people, there are only 150 shelter beds available for survivors of domestic violence and their families,” Caruso said.

Caruso is asking staffers at restaurants and bars to don pins that say “150,” representing the current number of shelter beds in the city.

She’s also encouraging workers to tweet at Gov. JB Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot using the hashtag #nowservingawareness.

“A lot of people remain in abusive relationships because the shelters are full, and victims and their families simply do not have anywhere to go,” Caruso said. “If we put pressure on our elected officials, monetary help from statewide and citywide funding could really turn this around and increase the number of shelter beds for our city.”

Finally, Caruso is asking restaurants and bars throughout Chicago to help collect items for existing domestic violence shelters.

Customers can drop these items off at participating restaurants. (View a map here.)

The following items are needed most:

Toiletries: body wash, shampoo and conditioner, hand soap and hand sanitizer, hand and body lotion, deodorant, hair products, toothbrush and paste, hair brushes and curling and flat irons

Household items: pillows, blankets, comforters, sheets (twin-sized is particularly needed), towels and washcloths, coffeemakers, kitchen knives, can openers, irons, laundry detergent, industrial pots and pans and cleaning supplies

Baby items: diapers (particularly sizes four, five and six), pull-ups, baby wipes, baby wash, training cups, BPA-free baby bottles and umbrella strollers

Clothing: clothing for women, teens, children and babies, socks, underwear and sports bras

“What is helpful about having multiple drop-off points is it makes it more accessible for people and also educates them about supplies that domestic violence shelters desperately need,” Caruso said.

Connections for Abused Women and their Children was founded in 1977 and is headquartered in Humboldt Park. To get a sense of how far every dollar goes at the domestic violence shelter, the group shared its costs with Block Club Chicago:

  • 24-hour hotline: $1,000 pays for one month of the telephone bill
  • A 42-bed emergency shelter with a confidential address in Wicker Park: $5,000 pays for three months of shelter, $250 pays for transportation expenses for 10 survivors, $500 pays for job interview-appropriate clothing for seven survivors, $100 pays for school supplies
  • Free medical services for survivors and domestic violence trainings for staff at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Stroger Hospital: $2,500 pays for one year of counseling for a child who has witnessed domestic violence
  • Substance abuse services at the Haymarket Center
  • Community outreach services with groups such as local police districts and churches

Read more about the group and domestic violence at its website.

Related links

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Swedish Covenant Hospital Gets $950K Grant To Grow Program For Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence Survivors

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