Delaware County's Turning Point: New leader inherits COVID challenges
Maintaining services to victims of domestic violence during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic remains a focus for Turning Point, says Amber Scott, the nonprofit organization's new president and CEO.
Scott, a Canal Winchester resident, assumed the post in September; she succeeds Paula Roller, who served as executive director and retired after 26 years with the Marion-based organization, which opened Delaware County’s first domestic-violence shelter in 2019.
The pandemic has made it more difficult for some domestic-violence victims to seek help, Scott said.
"I think the biggest challenge is with mobility and people maintaining their stay at home due to COVID and the quarantine,” she said. “This is great for health and safety but not good for victims who are at home with their abusers. This prevents the opportunity to get out as they normally would.
“Being at home also hinders a victim's ability to seek help on their own,” she said.
It's a widespread problem, she said.
"This is something that's being experienced across the nation, as it relates to domestic violence,” Scott said. “Turning Point is addressing this through flexibility in our response and by providing different ways to access services.”
One response has been to increase the focus on awareness, Scott said.
"We are constantly informing the public of our existence, to include family members and close friends who can help to support the victim's transition,” she said.
“Beyond the fact that we provide domestic-violence sheltering, we are here to provide legal support, advocacy, 24-hour access and transitional support. The pandemic hasn't changed the services we provide as an organization and staying visible to the community is very important.”
Scott comes to Turning Point from IMPACT Community Action of Franklin County, where she was the director of empowerment services.
She said IMPACT, which assists more than 24,000 people a year, provides emergency financial assistance, home weatherization, comprehensive case management, reentry, financial literacy and a host of workforce- and career-development programs.
A nonprofit, IMPACT has an annual budget of $18 million, she said.
Scott's first official day at Turning Point came in late July, working with Roller and her leadership team to make the transition into her new role and come up to speed with the agency, which provides services in Delaware and five other counties.
"Paula Roller is a powerhouse," Scott said.
"She has made great history within the Marion community in particular, and of course was well on her way to establishing that same traction within the Delaware community,” Scott said. “She is more than awesome and has been more than supportive to me.
“She was very much a part of the selection process to a certain extent, so at the beginning stages of my selection, I did have the opportunity to speak with her. ... She has done an awesome job of handing the organization over to me,” Scott said.
Roller, who delayed her retirement for several years until Turning Point opened a new domestic-violence shelter in Delaware, said Scott is a great addition to the Turning Point family.
“Her leadership will ensure that the agency continues to meet the future challenges our families and communities will face in combating domestic violence,” Roller said.
Scott said her office will be in the Delaware shelter, 500 N. Liberty St. Roller was based in Marion.
Scott has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a master’s degree in adult education and curriculum design. She's enrolled in a doctoral program in education.
A Turning Point press release said the board of directors selected Scott after a search involving more than 100 candidates.
Chris King, board chairman and executive search committee leader, said the decision was difficult due to the “amazing” quality of the finalists for the position.
“Amber rose to the top because she literally checked every box for what we felt the organization needed to have in its next leader,” King said.
Turning Point also operates a shelter in Marion and has a 24-hour crisis hotline at 800-232-6505 or 740-382-8988.