SABRA sees eight years of hope and change

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 31, 2003

Jo Ann Bowline became the executive director of SABRA Sanctuary eight years ago. Since then, about 4,200 lives have been touched in some way by the organization.

She’s not kidding. When Bowline became the executive director in 1994 she had no experience or knowledge of domestic violence. She had originally applied for a receptionist position with the Fourth Judicial Circuit district attorney’s office. Instead of getting the job, she ended up interviewing for the position of executive director with SABRA Sanctuary &045; and ultimately getting it.

Because of funding problems, Bowline and Linda Cook, a fellow SABRA employee, ran the organization’s shelter for three months by themselves. Since those days SABRA Sanctuary has seen its employee numbers rise to 13, which includes victim’s advocates in Dallas, Wilcox and Perry counties.

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It wouldn’t have been possible, though, without assistance. When times were lean, the City of Selma, Dallas County and a number of churches responded to the group’s financial needs and made Bowline’s job much easier.

Using grant funds, Bowline and SABRA Sanctuary began educating people about domestic violence, teaching people about victims’ needs, helping victims’ children and letting victims know someone was there for them.

Eventually, Bowline left the shelter and moved into an office, which gave more accessibility to the public. More funds became available, enabling staff additions including a child advocate and counselor.

After eight years, though, Bowline said she’s ready for someone new to take the reins and move the program forward. But that doesn’t mean that she won’t still be involved with SABRA. Bowline still plans on helping with fund-raising for the group.

When asked if she had any advice for future employees, Bowline paused for just a moment. &uot;Dedication,&uot; she said. &uot;You have to care about what you’re doing. It’s not a job, it’s a vocation.&uot;