About CRA

Community Referral Agency (CRA) began in 1979 as a grassroots, volunteer organization struggling to provide otherwise non-existent services to Polk and BurnettCounty’s victims of family violence.  It operated as a safe-home project until 1986 when state funds were awarded for the establishment of a professionally staffed emergency shelter in Balsam Lake, Wisconsin.  In 1989, utilizing HUD and WHEDA funds, a larger home was purchased in Milltown to accommodate shelter clients, CRA’s staff, and offices.  When the agency outgrew this structure, CDBG funds combined with gifts from the Otto Bremer Foundation, Hugh J. Andersen Foundation, the Deaver Foundation, the St. Croix Tribe, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago, and the generosity of many individuals and the communities served allowed CRA to design and construct a new $1.3 million state of the art facility that opened its “mortgage free” doors to victims of domestic violence in December of 2001.

Organization’s Objectives: 

1.   To provide immediate protection and options to domestic violence and sexual abuse victims irrespective of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or economic status

2.   To provide counseling and advocacy services for domestic violence and sexual abuse victims.

3.   To provide community education about the social issues related to violence against women and to increase public awareness to the extent of, the causes of, and the solutions for domestic violence and sexual assault.

4.   To provide long-term support, enabling the victim to become self-sufficient

To meet the above objectives, we provide the following services:

Emergency Shelter:  Our shelter is a 20 plus bed facility which provides emergency housing for people who have experienced physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse. In 2013, 3,493  days of shelter were provided to 70 adults and 69 children. The shelter provides private, accessible and respectful living space for families in residence with a well-stocked shared kitchen, laundry facilities, as-well-as clothing and other personal items. Special services are provided to address the needs of children in residence. Welcome Home offers a safe time-out for all family members and gives them an opportunity to regain a sense of strength and control in their lives. A state-of-the-art security system assures the safety of all residents.  We also provide male victims of violence with shelter; this service is made available through agreements that CRA has set up with a hotel in both Polk and Burnett Counties.  Strict confidentiality is the cornerstone of all our services.

24 Hour Crisis Response: CRA provides a telephone number with 24-hour immediate access to a person trained in providing sexual and domestic violence crisis counseling/intervention, information and referrals. 

Personal Advocacy: CRA addresses victim’s/survivor’s self -identified needs through an ongoing supportive process of listening, providing emotional support, identifying options, problem solving and skills development.

Systems Advocacy: CRA acts on behalf of and in support of victims/survivors of sexual and domestic violence to ensure their interests are represented and their rights upheld.  This includes legal and medical accompaniment/advocacy, as well as the development of cooperative relationships with community partners to improve systems response to all survivors. 

Information and Referral:  CRA provides and maintains current information pertaining to appropriate community resources.  The agency works with such providers as Health and Human Services, housing authorities, law enforcement and mental health professionals. 

Support Groups: CRA provides regular facilitated meetings of victims/survivors of sexual and domestic violence and/or survivor allies (e.g. family members, partners) with a supportive and educational focus.   Support groups meet once weekly and include a sexual assault survivors group, domestic violence education group and children’s group. 

Accessible Services:  CRA adheres to policies, procedures, attitudes, communications and accessible physical space (according to ADA guidelines) for all members of the community. CRA works toward removing barriers to services through a commitment to cultural competency providing yearly training to staff and volunteers. 

Community Outreach and Prevention Education:  CRA increases awareness and understanding about sexual and domestic violence through community outreach and engagement.   Staff provided 995 individuals with education and information during 45 presentations throughout 2009.