GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The Quigley House opened its doors last to the public to meet its new CEO, Susan Atwell.
Atwell was hired in November and has taken the last two months to familiarize herself with the area and learn the organization’s processes. The domestic abuse and sexual assault help center wanted the public to meet Atwell during a meet and greet last Thursday. Atwell said the community has received her with open arms.
“What [the Quigley House] does is a big job and it’s an important job,” Atwell said. “It’s been great so far and the community has been very welcoming to me.”
Atwell has been in the service of helping others for years. She worked for a company that focused on workforce services helping those in poverty to acquire GEDs, college credit, on-the-job training and scholarships before moving to Clay County.
Part of her background also includes child advocacy and similar services.
“It’s just what I do,” Atwell said. “Working with nonprofits is something that brings me great joy.”
She said she’s been working for nonprofits for more than 30 years and she looks forward to continuing that service.
The Quigley House headquarters are located just outside of Green Cove Springs city limits on U.S. Highway 17 and it’s an all-encompassing center for those dealing with domestic violence and sexual abuse. Atwell said the organization is especially proud of its domestic violence shelter which gives those in need a safe place to live while their situation is handled.
That stay includes counseling, financial education and more.
“It’s all in the service of getting that person safe and back on their feet,” Atwell said.
The average stay at the shelter is five weeks, she said. The organization’s services don’t end there, either. The Quigley House will advocate for survivors in court, supply food and other necessities to those in need and get medical help to those that seek it.
“We’re an all-encompassing help center,” Atwell said. “We encourage anyone that thinks they need our services to come and talk to us because there’s always something we can do for them.”
Atwell is still new to her position, but she said one of the major goals is creating a path to a partnership with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office. She’s also working to increase outreach in the community and increase the organization’s fundraising in Clay County.
Her number No. 1 goal, though, is to reduce the need for the Quigley House to exist.
“In an ideal world, our services aren’t needed,” Atwell said. “We help survivors, survivors of domestic violence, survivors of sexual assault...ideally, nobody has to go through those situations, but people do and we’re here for them.”
Atwell is from Washington, D.C., but her family currently resides in Valdosta, Georgia. She said it won’t be much longer until she and her family are permanent residents of Clay County.
“This place is amazing,” Atwell said. “The people and the community are so great, and I’m impressed with the wealth of services in Clay County.”
The Quigley House has a 24-hour hotline at (904) 284-0061 and (800) 339-5017 that’s available every day of the year and Atwell insists that nobody should hesitate to call.
“There will always be somebody here for someone in crisis,” she said.