Decades of Growth

1979 – LACASA begins in borrowed office space, starts a crisis phone line, and hires a part-time director. Its official name is Livingston Area Council Against Spousal Abuse (LACASA).

1981 – LACASA incorporates as a 501(c)3 organization. Trained volunteers open their homes to women and children who are victims of domestic violence. Only 3-day stays are permitted at this time.

1982 – The agency rents permanent office space and adds part-time counseling staff

1983 – LACASA rents its first shelter; clients can stay up to 3 weeks. A Children’s Counseling Coordinator is added to meet the needs of shelter children. A prevention and intervention program is added to counsel domestic violence assailants.

1985 – Citizens’ Advisory Committee forms to study the purchase of a permanent shelter.

1987 – A successful capital fund drive raises $40,000 and the organization purchases its first permanent shelter home.

1990 – Caring for the youngest victims of domestic and sexual violence is a priority for LACASA. Several children’s programs are added including the 4-H and the Children’s Activities Project. The agency adopts these non-traditional therapeutic approaches to help children express their feelings through artistic and creative activities.

1994 – LACASA pays off its shelter mortgage, just 8 years after its purchase.

1995 – The agency completes its first 5-Year Strategic Plan. LACASA adds transitional housing services for victims of domestic violence. The agency spearheads the development of the Livingston County Domestic Violence Prevention Council.

1996 – LACASA continues to expand, adding a 34-hour On-Call Response Team, Legal Advocacy Services, and a second assailant-counseling program.

A full-time Prevention & Education Program is established to conduct outreach projects in the schools and community.

The nonprofit also spearheads the formation of a Criminal Justice Task Force to review and coordinate community protocols and domestic violence and sexual assault.

1997 – LACASA conducts a county-wide feasibility study, and with strong community support it begins a capital campaign to build a new facility.

LACASA purchases land and renovates an existing structure on the property. The renovated facility houses the sexual assault services program, legal advocacy program and administrative offices while funds are being raised for a new facility.

1999 – LACASA adds the prevention and intervention of child abuse to its mission. LACASA develops a full-time Child Abuse Program and takes the CARE project (Child Abuse Response Effort) under its umbrella at the request of the Livingston County Prosecutor’s Office.

2000 – LACASA expands its Transitional Housing Program to 6 housing units. A special sexual violence sub-committee begins research on developing a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program to provide sexual assault victims with compassionate forensic examinations.

2001 – The community rallies for LACASA and a $2.8 million capital campaign concludes successfully in June. Groundbreaking begins to build a comprehensive services center for victims and survivors of child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault.

2002 – Doors to LACASA’s new facility open in July. All of the agency’s operations now are under one roof including LACASA’s 21-bed Crisis Shelter, a Counseling Center, a new Children & Youth Center, and the administrative offices.

LACASA also launches an Animal Kennel Program, the first of its kind in Michigan. The Safe Pet Place provides on-site facilities for family pets, keeping them safe from the retaliation of abusers.

2003 – LACASA sells the old shelter house and sale proceeds are used to establish an endowment fund. Also in this year, LACASA undertakes the development of a 5-Year Strategic Plan to prepare for the organization’s future.

2004 – In October, the SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) program opens and LACASA begins providing forensic exams for sexual assault victims 12 years of age and older.

2010 – LACASA launches the Livingston County Trauma Informed Assessment Program. Thus multi-disciplinary team works to improve the overall functioning of children who have experience trauma due to child abuse or neglect.

The agency begins a partnership program with CASA (Court Appointed Specil Advocates), a national organization. A LACASA-CASA Program is developed to provide court-appointed advocates for abused and neglected children from Livingston County.

Funding is received to develop a Domestic Abuse Response Team program.

2011 – LACASA enters into talks with the Family Resource Center (FRC) about blending the two nonprofits. In December, LACASA’s Board approves the acquisition of the FRC. The Child Abuse Prevention (CAP) Council, formerly operating within the FRC, now operates under the umbrella of LACASA.

The LACASA Board of Directors approves a legal name change. Originally, L.A.C.A.S.A. was an acronym for Livingston Advisory Council Against Spousal Abuse. During its 30-year history, the organization’s programs and services expanded far beyond the scope of spousal abuse. The name no longer accurately depicted the agency’s comprehensive services and programs, and Internet search engines required a broader description of the organization’s work. Today, we are known as LACASA, or LACASA Center.

The Board of Directors also approves new wording for LACASA’s mission statement. The mission remains the same, however, the terminology is clarified and simplified.

2012 – LACASA completes renovations to its garden level and the former Family Resource Center staff relocates to the facility in January. The FRC’s child abuse prevention programs and parenting education classes are added to LACASA’s community outreach initiatives.

LACASA launches a brand identity program in March. A new logo, brand identity program and website are unveiled at a Supporter Appreciation Celebration in March, 2012.

LACASA Center begins hosting Cinderella’s Closet, a pop-up boutique where high school girls can shop affordably for gently-loved gowns and dresses during annual prom and homecoming seasons. All dresses are just $25 and proceeds go to LACASA Center.

2013 – A Teen Advisory Council is established at LACASA. Local teens from area high schools collaborate on the council to develop educational materials and create awareness programs about dating abuse, dating violence and sexual assault.

The agency launches a “Shine the Light” campaign in October, which is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Businesses and residents are invited to purchase purple lights at LACASA for a nominal donation. Lights are displayed throughout the county along with awareness posters to show solidarity for victims and to send a message to perpetrators that abuse will not be tolerated in our community. (The campaign continues annually.)

2014 – LACASA launches “Within these Walls,” a monthly one-hour informational event, which includes a tour of the agency’s comprehensive facility. These events are designed for individuals, organizations, businesses and faith-based groups to learn more about LACASA, its mission, and the critical programs it provides for local abuse victims and survivors.

LACASA Center is the recipient of a $1 million endowment. The investment fund, made by an angel funder who requests anonymity, stipulates that the $1 million endowment remain intact to create a source of ongoing income for LACASA. Annual dividends and earned interest from the fund will be utilized for victim services and the agency’s general operating expenses. This bequest is the largest known single endowment made by an individual to a nonprofit organization in the history of Livingston County, MI.

2015 – The agency’s Sexual Assault Response Center launches a county-wide “Call Us First” campaign, which encourages sexual assault victims to contact LACASA for immediate confidential help and compassionate care.

2016 – LACASA’s Child Abuse Prevention (CAP) Council is upgraded to the highest Tier III status from the Michigan Children’s Trust Fund, which increases grant funding for the council to $20,000 annually.

The agency celebrates its 35th Anniversary by hosting a Black & White Masquerade Gala. Long-time supporters and board members are presented “Mission Possible” awards at the event.

LACASA’s Board of Directors forms a special committee to explore potential sustainability projects at LACASA. A strategic plan and formal business plan are developed recommending that the agency open a resale store to help provide sustainable funding for the organization.

2017 – LACASA Center opens the LACASA Collection, an upscale resale shop in Howell. All proceeds from the store directly fund critical programs and services at LACASA Center. The store is open to the public and also provides a setting where clients can shop with dignity for the things they need at no charge. All items offered in the store are donated by community supporters. The LACASA Collection’s official grand opening is held on September 8, 2017.

October, which is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, marks the 20th anniversary of LACASA Center’s annual Domestic Violence Candlelight Vigil, which is held on the grounds of the Howell historic county courthouse each year.

2018 – In April, LACASA commemorates 20 years of hosting the Clothesline Project at public libraries throughout Livingston County. April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

LACASA’s Garden Tour Weekend, the agency’s annual summer fundraising event, celebrates its 20th anniversary in July, 2018.