We recognize that sexual and domestic violence, child abuse, and neglect are serious crimes within our society. These acts reflect a social disease of aggression whose victims and perpetrators come from diverse populations.
We believe that public education and awareness help to prevent abuse and alter the societal acceptance of interpersonal violence. All people deserve to be treated fairly and humanely. We work toward the elimination of aggression, inhumane treatment, and victimization. We recognize healthy individuals and families are the foundation of a healthy community.
To empower and advocate for those affected
by sexual and domestic violence, child abuse
We envision a community in which every person lives without fear of interpersonal violence.
SOS began in 1976 as an outgrowth of the Emporia Chapter of the National Organization for Women formed from the social justice movement of the 1960s and ’70s. A steering committee made up of representatives from various helping professions met to formalize Sexual Offense Services and coordinate efforts to serve rape victims.
In the fall of 1978, with the addition of services for battered women, Sexual Offense Services became SOS, providing temporary safety in volunteers’ homes, food, clothing, money, transportation, and referrals for victims of domestic violence and their children. A board of directors, termed Core Commission, was formed. Susan Moran was appointed Executive Director. To facilitate grant requests and donations, the application for recognition as a federal tax-exempt 501-c-3 non-profit entity was granted on August 31, 1981. Early in 1982, SOS, Inc. became a United Way agency.
The formalization of SOS was in anticipation of the effort in Congress to pass the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) in 1984. It established the Crime Victims Fund where criminal fines and other assessments collected by the federal government were deposited. Since then, states have applied for VOCA grants then, in turn, re-granted funds to the state’s eligible public and nonprofit organizations for victim services, especially victims of sexual and domestic violence. Thus, the impetus behind SOS Core Commission’s plan to expand services.
In 1983, SOS began a collaboration with Emporia State University (ESU) to house a Sexual Assault Prevention Educator/Advocate on campus in coordination with the ESU Women’s Center. The advocate operated from a campus office for a few years until SOS advocates took over responding to calls and providing presentations to classes and other organizations.
On April 1, 1985, SOS rented a home to house three staff and establish our first client shelter on the upper floor. The need for more beds by 1989 prompted a fundraising campaign to raise money to buy a residential building in January 1986. The building had three levels of apartments, allowing two floors for sheltering women and their children and one floor for administration and shelter offices. A new toll-free line in 1990 provided reliable access to services 24-hours a day, 365 days a year.
SOS Begins To Add Children's Programs
Through study and understanding the roots of sexual and domestic violence and the effects it has on society, communities, families, and children, Susan Moran and the Core saw the clear need for more programs focused on children. They set about to bring proven programs under the SOS umbrella. The administration for the programs was in place so the focus could be on direct services to children.
CASA Services Begin
SOS CASA of the Flint Hills was the first addition to the SOS children’s programs. It began in July 1995 to serve the 5th Judicial District that includes Chase and Lyon counties. CASA is part of a national program of volunteer advocates, known as Court Appointed Special Advocates. CASA provides highly trained volunteer advocates in Lyon and Chase Counties to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children involved in the court system in certain child-in-need-of-care and domestic cases.
Child Visitation & Exchange Center Begins
In 1999, the SOS Child Visitation & Exchange Center (CVEC) opened. The CVEC offers supervised visitation or monitored exchanges in a safe, neutral environment for children and their families. Children involved in complicated custodial or court-ordered processes spend time with their non-residential parent in a friendly, nurturing atmosphere. The CVEC focuses on the safety and well-being of every child. Monitored exchanges at the center help eliminate confrontational situations and thus reduces the potential for violence or conflict when parents who have a history of ongoing conflict must exchange children for visitation purposes.
Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services
In 2000, a state grant program with the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS) (now Department for Children and Families) placed an SOS advocate at SRS to work with sexual and domestic violence victims seeking services and to train SRS employees so they could make referrals. This program was called OARS: Orientation, Assessment, Referral, and Safety and ended in June 2012 due to state budget cuts.
The children’s programs, CASA and CVEC, operated from various locations around Emporia until SOS rented offices at Fifth and Merchant. Crisis Services continued to operate from the shelter.
Child Advocacy Center Begins
In June 2002, the SOS Child Advocacy Center (CAC) was added to provide a child-friendly, neutral facility in which to interview children involved in cases of alleged child abuse or neglect. The CAC also coordinates a multidisciplinary team that monitors case progression and makes victim-centered decisions about the investigation, treatment, management, and prosecution of each case.
Rural Program Begins
In the fall of 2002, a Rural Program director was hired to guide the continuing development of the Lyon County Coordinated Community Response Team and to establish and direct 5 outreach offices in outlying counties that SOS served.
In early 2003, four county coordinators were hired to operate SOS outreach offices in Chase, Coffey, Greenwood, and Morris counties. These coordinators provide direct client services, advocate community response for victims, and work to develop a supporting volunteer base. SOS county offices started in Burlington, Cottonwood Falls, Council Grove, and Eureka. In 2004, an office opened in Lyndon and a coordinator was hired to serve Osage County. The Cottonwood Falls office was later merged with our Morris County office in Council Grove. In 2021, funding issues prompted SOS to transfer all services for Greenwood County to the Family Life Center of Butler County. The SOS Eureka office closed in September 2021.
Prevention Education Begins
In November 2003, SOS was awarded a DELTA grant by the Centers for Disease Control. DELTA’s objectives were to develop ideas regarding the prevention of domestic violence and identify ways to make a societal change by working with multiple communities, such as faith, education, workplace, and other disciplines. This grant ended in January 2013. Prevention education then became a primary objective under the Rural Grant.
Executive Director Transition & Need For More Space
In June 2012, Executive Director Susan Moran retired, and Connie Cahoone became the second Executive Director for SOS.
In March 2016, the SOS Core Commission changed its name to the Board of Directors. Expanding services and the need for more space for staff, services and programming rose to a top priority.
SOS Community Advocacy & Service Complex
In December 2017, SOS hired Swanson House Fundraising Professionals to advise and oversee the Stronger Together Capital Campaign to consolidate all SOS programs, including its emergency shelter, under one roof of operation. Fundraising began in March 2018 and a building was purchased on July 31, 2018.
On June 21, 2021, over three years after the “Stronger Together” Capital Campaign launched, extensive renovation throughout 1420 C of E Drive officially concluded. Four programs, previously at separate locations within Emporia, became united at the SOS Community Advocacy and Service Complex. For the first time in SOS’s history, all Emporia staff (Administration, Crisis Services, the shelter, CASA of the Flint Hills, the Child Visitation & Exchange Center, and the Child Advocacy Center) are working in the same location. This fully renovated and integrated 25,000-foot facility with enhanced security benefits clients and staff with improved efficiency. Comprehensive victim services at one convenient site provide SOS with greater visibility in the community. When we look back and reflect on how our organization began in 1976 as a solitary office, run by a single volunteer that fought tirelessly for the survivors of interpersonal violence, we are proud of how far we have come, and this momentous achievement represents a dream come true for us!
SOS Serves Everyone
Violence can affect anyone - it does not differentiate between people and neither does SOS. It is the policy of SOS that all individuals have the right to participate in employment, programs, educational training, and all activities operated by SOS regardless of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression, religion, creed, ethnic or national origin, ancestry, age, military or veteran status, disability status, marital, parental or family status, economic status, genetic information, or political affiliation.