Orange County Rape Crisis Center turns 40

Mar. 02, 2014 @ 12:19 PM

Orange County Rape Crisis Center founder Miriam Slifkin said it best: “There is a lot that has been done and done well, but there is a lot left to do.”

Embarking on its 40th year, OCRCC is looking back as it charts its future as an agency of change.
OCRCC was most recently named the Nonprofit Business of the Year by the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce for 2013 and has plans to celebrate its legacy in the community.
Executive director Shamecca Bryant said that the center will be hosting Cupcakes & Cocktails at 6 p.m. on April 29, a gratitude gala and several open houses throughout the year to show the community its new location in Suite 302 at 1506 E. Franklin St.
“We’re really interested in people who have been affiliated with us over the last 40 years, having them come back and tell their stories and where they are now,” Bryant said. “How their experience as a volunteer at the center helped shaped their futures.”
Bryant has been leading the agency since it moved to its new location four years ago. Before her promotion, she was the development director for two and a half years, helping the agency raise funds for its operations.
The 10 staff members, seven interns and more than 70 volunteers served 617 clients last year, reached more than 12,000 youth and adults through education programs and held 12 support groups and workshops.
“Our role is to help those in need of support and to be a beacon of hope for those who have been victims of sexual assault,” Bryant said. “We work to help make this a safe community. Over 40 years some portions of what we do has changed but at our core we’re here to support survivors of sexual violence.”
Also helping OCRCC celebrate 40 years is Durham artist Luis Franco who made custom artwork for the agency’s birthday. Three individual, framed panels display the organization’s tagline, Help, Hope and Healing.
OCRCC, Bryant said, has had an expansion of education efforts including working with adults and parents to help bring an end to sexual abuse of children and providing professional consultations for people in professions that are likely to encounter victims or survivors of sexual assault to help them best address their needs.
Bryant and some of her staff will be traveling across the state this year to aid in the implementation of a support group manual on sexual assault that OCRCC created that will help create support groups across the state and strengthen existing ones.
“We’ve drastically grown our support group services to include those for Spanish speakers,” since it began in 2007. With the Latino community representing 8.2 percent of Orange County’s population, a 50 percent increase from 2000, OCRCC realized the needed to provide culturally competent services to the area Spanish-speaking population.
“Not providing services to the Spanish population was not an option because there was a need,” she said.
OCRCC also plans to unveil this year, the recorded histories of people who have had longtime relationships with the agency.
From its humble beginnings with a group of women starting a help line in response to a serial rapes in the community, OCRCC operates on a budget of about $561,000 that combines local, state and federal funds along with help from the United Way, individual donors and special events.
“We are challenged just like a lot of organizations, to make sure that we can do the work that’s imperative to the community,” Bryant said.
Following a $60,000 cut in state funds, Bryant said that maintaining existing services and growing where needed is “a balancing act.”
“Now more than ever we are in need of those generous individuals who are willing to contribute to our cause,” she said.
For information on the Orange County Rape Crisis Center, call (919) 968-4647 or visit