SACIS develops business connections, caters community members

Cassie Buchman, City Editor

Ever since Sexual Assault Counseling and Information Services moved from campus to 18th Street, the facility has been able to develop connections with local business, and cater to clients from the Charleston community.

Erin Walters, the executive director of SACIS, said getting in touch with local businesses on 18th Street for events has been a positive change.

“When I introduce myself, (businesses) greet me with a smile,” she said.

Partnering with these businesses allowed those places to get more customers and SACIS, with a new facility now located at 1505 18th Street, Suite 2, to get more clients.

“Teaming up with local businesses has increased (referrals) for us, and businesses as well,” Walters said.

Since the office moved, SACIS members have seen an increase of referrals, some of which include college students.

A problem with the SACIS office located on campus was some community members believed it was only for students.

With its new location, people are viewing it as a resource for everyone, Walters said.

“I would say our goal was to reach out, and become more of an entity in the community,” she said.

Walters said the facility has maintained a balance of community members and students referrals.

The new location has helped eliminate some problems they had with the campus location.

“It’s so much easier to access our services with the ability to overcome some of the barriers, ” she said.

These barriers include parking issues, and the concern of being seen at SACIS on campus, which would make people hesitate to go.

Another issue was people were not aware of some their services.

These services include counseling, transportation services for people, and having SACIS members available to meet with people who are uncomfortable with coming to their facility.

Walters said the move was not difficult.

“It’s like we blinked, and all of a sudden we were here,” she said. “ We had some time to prepare, though. It was a fairly easy transition.”

They notified the public of he move through an open house along with the Take Back the Day run.

Another contributing factor to the increase in referrals was more public relations regarding to sexual violence, such as speakers attending campus.

Walters said their location is easy to find.

“It’s not terribly far from campus. It’s near the high school and middle school, ” she said. “It’s current location is in town where people can find us, and there’s not so much traffic that people will feel under a microscope if they come here.”

Walters said there have not been any problems with the new location, although some things are a bit different.

“(It has) been a positive change,” she said. “We really like our space here, and are proud of it.”

They also serve eight counties apart from with their location in Charleston.

SACIS members will be hosting Rock Out Against Rape on Jan. 30 on the Top of the Roc Black Front Restaurant & Lounge.

Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].