The Cumbee Center to Assist Abused Persons, also known as CAAP, was established in 1979 by Dan Barton, a local minister and his wife, Melanie Barton, to assist victims of domestic violence. The Cumbee Center opened its first emergency shelter for battered women and their children in 1984 to shelter domestic violence victims of Aiken, Allendale and Barnwell counties.
Around the same time, the Cumbee Center started a sexual assault program to serve as the rape crisis center for Aiken County. A satellite office was opened in Edgefield to assist victims of sexual assault in Edgefield, McCormick and Saluda counties. In 1999, the Cumbee Center opened yet another satellite office in Barnwell to assist victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Allendale and Barnwell counties.
Originally named the Coalition to Assist Abused Persons, CAAP changed its name in 1995 to the Cumbee Center to Assist Abused Persons, Inc. in honor of longtime, dedicated board member and volunteer, John Cumbee. Until his unexpected death in 1994, Mr. Cumbee assisted the Cumbee Center for several years with everything from budget matters to painting.
With an intentional focus on awareness of violence issues and the free, confidential services we offer, we have experienced an increase in demand for these services the past few years. Consequently, we have increased our capacity to serve additional clients by moving into a larger office in December 2017. This office located at 254 Beaufort Street, NE in Aiken is outfitted with more confidential office spaces as well as a large conference room for educational workshops, community collaborations, and staff development. We are delighted to have space for new staff that were needed as well as room for future growth.
With generous donations from our friends and partners, we have made significant improvements to our emergency shelter which serves women and children who are fleeing abuse. After a year of intense training for all staff in trauma-informed care, we are initiating changes in all aspects of the agency including renovations to make our client spaces more inviting, additional training that allows us to view clients through the lens of the trauma they have experienced, and incorporating survivor stories and feedback into how we shape our policies and protocols. Our Board of Directors, staff, and volunteers continue to ensure that our agency follows best practices in carrying out our mission of serving survivors.
To support and empower domestic violence and sexual violence victims and their families by providing services, reducing the tolerance of abuse, and advocating for social change.