Pinellas County, Fla. (April 28, 2020)— Kirk Ray Smith, President and CEO of RCS Pinellas, announced today a $30,000 donation from Crown Automotive Group. The funds will provide thousands of meals through the organization’s Food Bank and shelter for domestic violence survivors.
“We’re so appreciative of this gift from Crown Automotive Group,” he said. “We can provide safety and security for women and children escaping domestic violence and feed every child, senior, student and family that comes to one of our 75 food banks because of your generosity.”
RCS Pinellas Food Bank serves 70,000 each year—more than the seating capacity of Raymond James Stadium. Almost of half of those they serve—32,000—are senior citizens and children. Annually, without the additional economic strain of a worldwide pandemic, RCS Pinellas distributes more than 6 million pounds of food to Pinellas County residents.
“Crown chose RCS because of their leadership, mission and reputation,” said Kevin Hawkins, Executive Director of Crown Automotive Group. “They have a rich history of superior community impact and reach.” Crown also included RCS Pinellas in the #CrownFightsHunger GoFundMe campaign launched this week as another way to fight hunger in Pinellas County.
As we enter the eighth week of social distancing and safer-at home guidelines, many Pinellas residents have seen major disruptions to their income and access to food, and the Food Bank has seen an increase in need of 100 percent. “We’re contacted daily by people who’ve never before been in a position of not having the resources to feed their family,” Smith said.
RCS Pinellas has responded to the global pandemic by taking all necessary steps to protect the health of staff, volunteers and guests, including a providing gloves and masks for all those working in the food banks, a new process of sanitizing incoming donations and outgoing food pick-ups and also converting to drive-by distribution.
Domestic violence is on the rise across the nation as abusers and victims are in extremely close proximity 24 hours a day and loss of jobs and income—and other stressors—trigger explosive outbursts. Murder-suicides related to domestic violence are currently double the national average. Locally, the high lethality calls received by Clearwater, Largo, Pinellas County and Tarpon Springs Law Enforcement jumped by more than 50 cases from February to March. Smith believes the number is certain to jump again from March to April.
The number of calls to the RCS Pinellas domestic violence hotline (and others) are currently down, while police department calls regarding domestic violence are up. “This indicates to us in domestic violence services that victims are ‘hunkered down’ at home and are unable to call for help…until there is an explosive incident,” Smith said. That also explains the increased percentage of domestic violence related to murder/suicides.
RCS is preparing for the coming surge of calls by ensuring staff, supplies and facilities are properly prepared. The hotline already receives more than 4,000 calls annually with requests for assistance in matters of domestic violence, and The Haven of RCS provides safety, security and support for women and children facing domestic abuse.
RCS serves nearly 17,000 women and children annually through the outreach center, and sheltered more than 300 women and children in their safe house last year. Smith reports that they expect to see record numbers across all of these programs this year.
“If you or someone you know is in need of our assistance,” Smith said, “please know we have resources for you. With support from generous donors like Crown Automotive Group, we’ll be here every day to take those calls, meet that need and provide help and hope.”
ABOUT RCS PINELLAS
RCS Pinellas has provided help & hope to people in need for 50 years. RCS’s mission is to feed the hungry, help families facing homelessness return to self-sufficiency, and empower survivors of domestic violence. Over 130,000 Pinellas County individuals are served annually with dignity to accomplish this mission at the RCS Food Bank, the RCS Grace House, The Haven of RCS, RCS Affordable Housing, RCS Energy Assistance Program, and RCS thrift store partnerships. For more information on RCS, visit www.rcspinellas.org or call 727-584-3528.
ABOUT CROWN AUTOMOTIVE GROUP
Over the last 50 years, Crown Automotive Group has grown into one of the largest privately owned dealership groups in the nation with operations in Florida, Ohio, and Tennessee. Every Crown Automotive dealership features an extensive selection of new, certified, and meticulously inspected pre-owned vehicles with financing options for every budget. Customers can also expect superior service from a team of highly trained technicians at Crown’s signature award-winning service facilities. Driven by four core values: Customer Focus, Teamwork, Integrity, and Growth, the group is committed to providing each customer with “The Better Way To Buy.” Visit http://www.crowncars.com for more information on Crown Automotive Group and The Better Way To Buy.