The Colusa County Board of Supervisors has authorized an application for grant funding to move forward with a domestic violence program and shelter named after murder victim Karen Garcia.
Investigators said Karen was killed on Jan 8, 2018 in the Colusa apartment she had shared with her boyfriend, Salvador Vaca Garcia, Jr., shortly after the couple broke up – the most dangerous time for women who are in abusive relationships, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Garcia Jr., the lone suspect in the homicide, was on the run for well over a year before his arrest by the U.S. Marshals Service in Mexico and turned over to local law enforcement on Aug. 4. He is being held without bail in the Colusa County Jail.
Karen’s House founder and president Tootie Hackett said Karen’s family is overjoyed that Garcia, Jr. was finally caught and will face his accusers in court, and that efforts to establish a domestic violence program shelter in Colusa County in Karen’s memory will live on.
“I spoke with Anna (Karen’s mother) soon after the news broke,” Hackett said Monday. “She said the tears will not stop and thanked everybody that kept this active in the news.”
Before Karen was killed, the 21-year-old mother of a 2-year-old girl reportedly suffered domestic abuse at the hands of her partner. It was a secret her friends said Karen was keeping up until Garcia Jr. was arrested on a domestic battery charge just after Christmas in 2017.
After her death, Karen’s friends worked to build Karen’s House, a non-profit domestic violence program in Colusa County to help victims and survivors of abuse.
Hackett said the group has held numerous fundraisers and has received one $10,000 grant already to provide resources to victims.
The Colusa County Board of Supervisors last week asked the California Department of Housing and Community Development for $90,348, which, if awarded, would come from funding under the Federal Emergency Solutions Grants Program.
“This is the emergency shelter grant that we applied for on behalf of – and in partnership – with Karen’s House to help develop temporary housing for domestic violence survivors and hopefully give them a site,” said Colusa County Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Kelly. “If this grant is approved by the state, that is what those dollars would be for.”
Colusa County would be required to match the grant 100 percent, but county officials said in-kind services and use of county facilities could be considered.
“It doesn’t have to be cash,” said Chairman of the Board Kent Boes.
The goal of Karen’s House is to provide shelter to victims and their children, in addition to offering services such as mental health, education, support, counseling, wellness recovery, and co-parenting education.
“This has been such a grassroots effort,” Kelly said. “They’ve really come a long way, but they are needing more help. They don’t have the funding to build an actual structure or even find a structure.”
If the grant is awarded, it will not only will provide Karen’s House with a temporary shelter for domestic abuse victims, but county staff will help Karen’s House develop plans for the a comprehensive domestic violence program in Colusa County that honors Karen Garcia’s memory.
A paint night fundraiser will be held at 6 PM on Aug. 20 for Karen’s House at Granzella’s Banquet Hall, in Williams. All materials will be provided. The cost is $45 per person with proceeds helping Karen’s House break the silence and stop the violence.
Contact Hackett at 701-4310. ■