Officials say that barring an eleventh-hour infusion of money, the Rape Crisis Hotline may cease operating next month because it is has run out of money and has no guaranteed source of revenue.
The hot line has operated for nine years, run by the Orange County Sexual Assault Network, a nonprofit organization serving rape victims throughout Orange County. More than 100 trained, volunteer counselors provide anonymous, round-the-clock counseling to victims.
Grants from the state office of Criminal Justice Planning have funded operations in recent years.
Two years ago, however, local officials decided not to seek state grants, preferring contributions from private corporations that would come with fewer strings attached, according to Linda Yuppa, a founder and member of the Sexual Assault Network board of directors.
But the recession and lingering poor economy have dried up revenue sources, she said.
Yuppa called an emergency meeting two weeks ago in the hot line's Garden Grove office to tell counselors that phone counseling services will be suspended on May 15 unless there is a last-minute financial rescue.
Yuppa said Monday, however, that there is a possibility the organization can come up with some funds and so avert the shutdown. The group has applied for a new grant from an unnamed corporation, and Yuppa said it is possible that money raised at a Southern California Edison Co. fund-raiser last weekend will allow her to extend operations.
"Things are not as bleak as they were two weeks ago," she said.
Yuppa said even unemployed people in the community are offering to contribute a few dollars to aid the hot line.
"The outpouring from the community is heartening," she said. "It makes you want to cry. "They're still concerned out there."
The Sexual Assault Network's annual budget is about $140,000, but the organization can manage on a bare-bones budget of $62,000 for a year, she said.
The organization has a $1,000 monthly phone bill and liability insurance is also costly, she said.
Volunteers field about 4,000 calls a year, she said.
Kimberly Kindra, who has been a rape victim counselor for about a year, said people in the organization "are willing to do anything to keep the hot line going. There are a lot of people who rely on us."
In addition to counseling, volunteers refer victims to therapists and put on self-defense lessons for organizations. The center can be reached at its hot line number, (714) 831-9110. The office number for the Orange County Sexual Assault Network is (714) 373-9994.
The Victim Witness Program operates a separate rape counseling hot line, (714) 957-2737, in Orange County called Sexual Assault Victims Services.