The Alpha House went through its ups and downs for the next year, while trying to achieve regular funding, and was in danger of closing its doors when United Methodist Church announced that it would fund the shelter for 6 months.
When that funding ran out, staff at Phoenix raised $1,700 using roadblocks to keep the shelter open another 3 months. After that trying time, Phoenix began receiving regular funding from United Way and many local community organizations. Because of the regular support, the Alpha House was officially incorporated as the Phoenix Crisis Center in 1987.
The Alpha House
Left to right in the front row are Karen Birchler, Richard Ballew, and Connie McGee. From the left in the back row are Rita Blum, Barbara Reedy, Maxine Hoelter, and Carol Chiappa.
Phoenix Crisis Center started in 1985 by founder Carol Chiappa Burgess. Her dream was to establish a non-profit organization that provided a 24 crisis hotline, counseling, and emergency shelter for domestic violence victims. All of this was not possible in the beginning, so Phoenix began as a small counseling office in the Coordinated Youth building in Granite City, IL. Later that year, Phoenix received its first grant from United Way and was able to establish their 24 hour Crisis Hotline. The same hotline they began with, Phoenix still has today, over 30 years later. The original line, provided by United Way, has become a “lifeline” and has been used to provide service to thousands of people. Many lives have been saved using the line.
In October of 1985, Carol was able to see the final branch of her dream grow. The Alpha House on Benton Avenue was opened to provide a temporary home for women and children affected by domestic violence.
Phoenix Crisis Center
Phoenix thrived for the next few years, helping hundreds of people in their community. Because the shelter was small and usually full to capacity, staff often had to find other shelters for victims who called the hotline.
There became a great need to locate a larger building to accommodate those needs. Phoenix received their answer in March of 1992 when they acquired their facility in Granite City. The new shelter would be able to accommodate more women and their children at a time, plus employ a 24 hour staff.
The next year there was a flood, the great flood of ’93. Many people were hurting and in need at this time. As a result, community budgets were stretched thin. A great deal of community funding was split to help others in need. Subsequently, Phoenix lost some of their usual resources and became in danger of closing their doors for the first time in 6 years.
Yet, they prevailed. Board members and staff organized many fundraisers and, with community participation, true to their namesake, Phoenix rose from the ashes and raised enough funds to keep the center open. With help from United Way and other organizations, the center grew exponentially. In fact, in 2003 alone, the Phoenix Crisis Center was able to assist almost 2,000 people, shelter 525 battered women and 74 children.
Since beginning, the Phoenix Crisis Center has met the needs of thousands in their community. Yet the need for protection keeps rising. Not only does Phoenix provide the crisis hotline, counseling, and shelter but, to fight domestic violence, Phoenix has grown to also provide legal advocacy and prevention education. Phoenix will continue educating, advocating, counseling, and sheltering until domestic violence is eradicated.