At the Town of Norwood’s monthly board meeting Oct. 14, Temojai Inhofe updated trustees about her work with the San Miguel Resource Center (SMRC). Inhofe, a licensed attorney with 20 years of experience, is now working as the full-time SMRC advocate for the West End.
October is domestic violence awareness month, and Inhofe submitted her organization’s proclamation to be read by the mayor and adopted by town officials.
She also gave recent statistics related to the local area. She said SMRC has increased services by 60 percent this year. She added that domestic violence is up 500 percent during the pandemic.
Inhofe said SMRC received a grant from the Lone Cone Legacy Trust a few weeks ago, which will help her organization better serve victims of abuse who need resources.
She said the stimulus checks that people received earlier this year also helped, and Inhofe spent two weeks helping victims receive their monies by supporting them with the online process. She said some hadn’t filed taxes and needed help with that first.
Inhofe said Norwood officials should know there are needs not being met in the West End for her clients. She said communication was one of the biggest, since many of the women she works with don’t have cellphones or even a landline to call for help.
She said one victim was safe-housed in Norwood because of a domestic violence issue, but her abuser found her. Because of the lady’s lack of communication devices, she had no way to call police.
Trustee Candy Meehan told fellow board members that a cellphone drive could support victims. She said she’s known other communities that have come together and donated old cellphones. Those phones can help women who could activate cell service, or at least be used to call 911, since any cellphone (even if not activated with a phone company) can be used to call police in an emergency.
Meehan said she wondered if the Nucla-Naturita Telephone Company might be able to also help with such a phone drive.
Inhofe also told the board she also wanted them to be aware of a trend in the 7th judicial district which includes San Miguel County: that people committing domestic violence crimes are getting off “with almost no punishment whatsoever.”
Inhofe said she knows of one local client who was held hostage with a loaded shotgun for days. The victim was raped multiple times, and as a result had to undergo surgeries, and is now incontinent and must wear a diaper.
The perpetrator was given two misdemeanors and a deferred judgement only — appalling to Inhofe.
“Please, everyone, vote,” Inhofe told the board and audience. “We need a new DA and new judges. If you want to commit a serious crime, this is the county to do it in. There is no real punishment.”
Meehan told Inhofe she was grateful for the update. She said she’s pleased to see someone like Inhofe doing the work in the West End.
She said she’s happy that “somebody that doesn’t take no for an answer is stepping up” and she wants Norwood to see what it can do to add support.
Trustee Jaime Schultz said Meehan’s idea on the cell phone drive was “great” and also wants to see that happen. Inhofe also agreed to proceed with the idea.
Kris Holstrom, county commissioner for District 3, said Inhofe should begin attending a countywide unmet needs group which meets on Mondays. Holstrom said the group discusses various resources for people who need support.