East End domestic violence shelter gets new van, $30,000 donation

The Retreat, an agency serving domestic violence and sexual assault victims on the East End, received an essential tool in helping its clients on Tuesday.

Marc Shioya, senior communications and marketing planner at Toyota Motor North America, handed over the keys to a brand new Sienna minivan to The Retreat’s shelter director, Vicki Cooper, at Riverhead Toyota on County Road 58. The company also donated $30,000 to the agency.

“The van, which we are so excited to get, is a game changer for the residents at our shelter because it’s about mobility,” said Kim Nichols, development director for The Retreat, which has offices in Riverhead, East Hampton and Hauppauge.

It’s about getting clients to doctor’s appointments, court appointments and out for job interviews, she said.

Sonya Lucki of Riverhead Toyota said the company is proud to be a part in offering the grant and van in an effort advance the financial and social mobility of The Retreat’s clients.

The Retreat’s shelter houses up to 18 people at a time, whether they are adults, men or women, that have been affected by domestic violence. There, they are offered counseling, legal advocacy, case management and financial empowerment, Ms. Cooper said. They can stay for up to 90 days, Ms. Cooper said.

With limited public transportation on the East End, and domestic violence victims sometimes having to take multiple buses to get to court in Central Islip, for example, the van will be key in helping shelter guests make their appointments, she said.

“Now, a volunteer can come to the shelter and drive them,” Ms. Cooper said. “It gives them a feeling of self respect and their children as well. It just shows them that the community cares, the people care, that our staff cares and that we have their best interest in mind. It’s so much more than a ride.”

Photo caption: Vicki Cooper takes the keys to the new minivan Tuesday. (Credit: Kelly Zegers)

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A bow was wrapped across the Toyota minivan Tuesday. (Credit: Kelly Zegers)