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Sexual violence programs merge

Sexual Assault Program (SAP) of Beltrami, Cass, Hubbard and Clearwater counties has merged with Support Within Reach (SWR), a sexual violence resource and advocacy center serving Aitkin and Itasca counties.

Both organizations approved the merger resolutions Jan. 6 after beginning merger discussions several months ago when SAP was searching for an executive director.

The former SWR executive director, Amanda Ysen, was asked to serve as interim executive director until SAP could determine its next steps. It was at this time that the two organizations began discussing the benefits of merging the organizations under one umbrella.

While SWR is merging into the existing SAP organization, the organization’s name will be changed to Support Within Reach. The organization’s mission will be to reduce the impact and harm of sexual violence for individuals and families in the communities that it serves.

Ysen will continue to be the administrator over the newly merged organization.

Support Within Reach is now the largest free standing sexual violence program within the state covering six counties, including Aitkin, Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater, Hubbard and Itasca. Free standing refers to an agency that has the sole purpose of serving victims of sexual violence.

The new organization will be divided into two districts with a headquarters located in each district. The organization’s primary headquarters will be located in District One in Bemidji, and will include Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater and Hubbard counties. District One also includes portions of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Red Lake Nation and White Earth Nation tribal communities.

District Two will have a general headquarters in Grand Rapids and will include Aitkin and Itasca counties, as well as portions of the Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, and Mille Lacs Lake Band of Ojibwe tribal communities.

The re-organization of SWR will take place over the next two years, eventually leading Ysen to relocate to the Bemidji area. Until then, Ysen’s primary office will be in Grand Rapids.

SWR expects staffing in each district to remain the same if not increase due to the organization’s structure changing in the near future – especially for District One.

Program areas include victim support and advocacy services, community engagement/volunteer program, coordinated community response programs/multi-disciplinary teams, and prevention education program.

Once the reorganization is completed there will be a staff person to coordinate and carry out programming in each county. In addition, each district will have a supervisor to assist with day-to-day issues that arise. Staff in each district will provide back-up to other counties in that same district.

The organization will continue to provide its core services in each of the two districts including crisis intervention, follow-up, one-to-one basic counseling, information/referral, law enforcement advocacy, medical accompaniment and advocacy, prosecution advocacy, as well as assistance in filing and obtaining harassment restraining orders and orders for protection. In addition, SWR will continue to maintain a community based sexual assault nurse examiner program in Itasca County.

The board of directors of the two former organizations have combined into one board.

For more information about the new organization or to speak to a sexual violence advocate, contact:

• District One: Cass, Clearwater, Beltrami and Hubbard counties, 800-708-2727.

• District Two: Aitkin and Itasca counties, 866-747-5008.

• Website:

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
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