Amberly’s Place has kicked off Week in Paradise, which raises funds to help Yuma County abuse victims with emergency needs.

“This is our largest fundraiser of the year, and we are grateful for our sponsors and all who buy tickets in support of Amberly’s Place. As we face these funding cuts, this fundraiser is more important than ever,” Executive Director Tori Bourguignon said.

Amberly’s Place is facing a “significant” cut to its Victims of Crime Act funding, which has historically been the largest and most stable funding source for the center.

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Amberly’s Place is facing a $225,000 funding cut for the upcoming year.

The COVID-19 pandemic delayed court cases, resulting in fewer penalties deposited into the Victims of Crime Act fund, the largest funding source for the Yuma County family advocacy center.

VOCA funds do not come from taxpayers’ dollars. Rather, they are funded with criminal fines, penalties, forfeited bail bonds and special assessments collected by the federal government.

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SAN LUIS, Ariz. – Financial contributions that City Hall pays to social service and other nonprofit organizations that serve San Luis will come under review by the new mayor.

Over the last two fiscal years, the city has approved more than $1 million in contracted services and in sponsorships to the organizations that stage events in the community and otherwise serve San Luis.

Mayor Nieves Riedel, who assumed office in December, says she has started a review of those allocations to make sure the city is getting the agreed-upon services and that the money is otherwise used for the intended purposes.


She said money will only be given to the organizations that submit reports on their uses of the funds, and depending on whether the city’s budget allows for the financial distributions.

“When they bring me (requests for) donations for approval, and I ask questions, I realized that there’s a list of the same people receiving (the money) and that they receive it systematically,” she said.

“I’m a person of numbers,” said Riedel, who heads a housing development company in San Luis. “And the numbers don’t lie. The residents of San Luis, Arizona, have the right to know how we are spending their money, because it’s not our money, nor is it the city employees. It’s the public’s money.”

First to come under review were the organizers of the Off Road Expo in San Luis, an event that brings together off-road vehicle vendors and enthusiasts of the pastime to the city’s Joe Orduno Park. The city committed $25,000 for contractual services and $10,500 in sponsorships.

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The Gila Ridge High School girls basketball team recently had the opportunity to extend their influence beyond the court and into Amberly’s Place, the nonprofit dedicated to supporting victims of abuse.

From Jan. 26 to Feb. 2, the team hosted a fundraising drive for Amberly’s Place and collected approximately 550 items for donation. These items ranged from foods like cereal and pasta to essential hygiene products like diapers and wipes.

According to the Yuma Union High School District, Gila Ridge girls basketball coach and health teacher Lindsay Martin has been involved in the community since before she started teaching and coaching. She came up with the idea for the team to start a drive for Amberly’s Place as a way of getting them involved.

“We are showing these young ladies that it is not just about basketball,” Martin said. “It is who you are as people at the end of the day. These girls want to help and be involved not just in school but in the community.”

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Amberly’s Place had an “incredibly busy year” in 2022. The family advocacy center experienced a 22% increase in domestic violence cases, an 18% increase in child sexual abuse cases over the previous year, and the number of reported cases of elder abuse and human sex trafficking more than doubled.

“If you look at the data across 2022, you will notice significant increases in several areas,” said Tori Bourguignon, executive director.

However, not all was bad news. The report indicated that cases of child physical abuse were down by 18% when compared to 2021.

According to its year-end report, Amberly’s Place provided trauma services to 3,078 primary and secondary victims of abuse in Yuma County and parts of Imperial County. The total number of cases represented an increase of 14% over the previous year.

The center helps victims of domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault and elder abuse. Secondary victims are those who witness and/or are directly impacted by the abuse of the primary victim.

“We are grateful for our law enforcement and DPS (Arizona Department of Child Services) partners for allowing us to assist you in serving victims,” Bourguignon said.

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The Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith and Family (GOYFF) has awarded approximately $200,000 in grant funding to five Arizona organizations to improve the investigation, prosecution and judicial handling of case involving child abuse and neglect.

“All Arizona children deserve the opportunity to thrive in safe, stable and nurturing environments,” Arizona Governor Doug Ducey said. “I’m grateful for the organizations and individuals who work tirelessly day in and day out to strengthen families, protect our kids, and prevent child abuse and neglect throughout our state.”

Amberly’s Place in Yuma is one of the organizations. The others are Childhelp Inc., Flagstaff Medical Center, Yavapai Family Advocacy Center and the Southern Arizona Children’s Advocacy Center.

The funding, which is being given through the FY2023 Children’s Justice Act, will be used to support organizations that improve multidisciplinary coordination, provide training for professionals involved in the and prosecution of child abuse and neglect cases, and support the development of child and family advocacy centers.

“Protecting Arizona’s most vulnerable from abuse and neglect and providing critical support to ensure all Arizonans have the opportunity to thrive, is a collaborative and statewide effort,” said GOYFF Executive Director Maria Cristina Fuentes. “We are proud to support the growth of the strong continuum of care in local communities through organizations who are dedicated to keeping Arizona children safe.”

The Children’s Justice Act Grant is a formula-based program administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

James Gilbert can be reached at or 539-6854

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Data released by Amberly’s Place shows another sharp jump in domestic violence numbers.

The family advocacy center assisted 274 primary and secondary victims in October, with 184 being victims of domestic abuse.

Amberly’s Place serves primary and secondary victims in Yuma County and parts of Imperial County. Secondary victims are those who witness and/or are directly impacted by the abuse of the primary victim.


“It is common to think about the primary victims in these cases, but many don’t often consider the secondary victims of domestic violence,” Executive Director Tori Bourguignon said. “The secondary victims are often children who bear witness to the violence happening in homes and carry with them the trauma that accompanies this violence.”

The October report indicates that 106 were primary victims of domestic violence, a 58% jump over the previous month and 33% increase over the previous year to date. The agency helped 78 secondary victims, a jump of 56% over the previous month and 3% over the previous year to date.

Bourguignon noted that domestic violence is often an indicator of child maltreatment. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children & Families, research indicates that child maltreatment occurs in 30% to 60% of families where spousal abuse takes place.

“Children in violent homes may witness parental violence, be victims of physical abuse or be neglected by parents who are focused on their partners or unresponsive to their children due to their own fears,” Bourguignon said. “Even if children are not maltreated, they may experience harmful emotional consequences from the violence they witness.”

Amberly’s Place, along with many other service providers in the community, are “keenly aware of the toll that domestic violence takes on the entire family,” she added.

The agency strives to provide trauma-informed services designed to address the lasting effects of family violence and work toward a healthier community “one family at a time.”

“We are grateful for all of our multidisciplinary team members and partner agencies who join us in this vital work,” Bourguignon said.

She pointed out that the holiday season is fast approaching and the downturn in the economy has left many families struggling. Each year, with the help of the community, Amberly’s Place provides Christmas gifts for victims’ families that would otherwise go without. If you are interested in adopting a family for Christmas, contact the office at the number below.

To talk to a crisis advocate, call the 24-hour helpline: 928-373-0849. For more information on spotting the signs of abuse, go to

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Domestic violence continues to be the highest service call for Amberly’s Place, with the agency responding to 30% more calls for this type of abuse than this same time last year.

The family advocacy center assisted 78 primary victims of domestic violence, which brings the year-to-date total to 798.

Overall, the center provided services to 230 primary and secondary victims of all kinds of abuse in September, according to the last figures released by the agency.


Amberly’s Place serves primary and secondary victims in Yuma County and parts of Imperial County. Secondary victims are those who witness and/or are directly impacted by the abuse of the primary victim.

“The good news is that more and more people are taking a stand and choosing to seek assistance and resources to end domestic violence in their lives,” said Tori Bourguignon, the center’s executive director.

“We are grateful to be able to serve abuse victims in our community alongside many partner agencies. It takes all of us to move the needle and reduce violence in our communities,” she added.

October marked Domestic Violence Awareness Month. To show support, public buildings sported purple lights and public safety vehicles displayed purple ribbon magnets.

Several awareness events were held, and local cities and towns read proclamations. Domestic violence task forces in Somerton and San Luis also hosted awareness walks and events to shed light on this issue.

On Oct. 20, the Yuma County Victim Rights Committee hosted the annual Domestic Violence Vigil at the Yuma County Library.

“Domestic violence is often hidden in plain sight and impacts our community in so many ways,” Bourguignon said.

She pointed out statistics from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (, which note that the costs of intimate partner rape, physical assault and stalking exceeds $5.8 billion each year. Nearly $4.1 billion goes to direct medical and mental health care services.

Survivors of intimate partner violence lose 8 million days of paid work each year and up to 50% of survivors of intimate partner violence who are employed are harassed at work by their abusive partners.

Bourguignon also noted that more than 12 million women and men are victims of physical violence, rape or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States every year. One in four women and one in 10 men have experienced contact sexual violence, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime.

Domestic violence accounts for 21% of all violent crimes. In addition, 30% of children exposed to intimate partner violence had their first exposure before the age of 2 and an additional 26% had their first exposure between the ages of 2 and 7.

“Witnessing violence in the home during childhood is an adverse childhood experience, which without proper support may lead to a greater risk of lasting negative effects on health and well-being,” Bourguignon said.

She thanked the local municipalities for hosting events and all those who supported Amberly’s Place in marking Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

“We appreciate all who joined us in lighting Yuma purple and raising awareness about domestic violence,” she said.

To talk to a crisis advocate, call the 24-hour helpline: 928-373-0849. For more information on spotting the signs of abuse, go to

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Amberly’s Place lost a critical and beloved member of the family on March 30. Goldie Love, a certified therapy dog, died at the age of 10. The golden retriever was almost 11 when she “passed over the rainbow bridge.”

Goldie joined the family advocacy center in 2013. She was certified and trained to work with victims. She brought comfort to countless victims, young and old, in Yuma County.

She would lay her head on the laps of victims who had experienced a loss. Children who were scared needed her the most.

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Amberly’s Place has kicked off its annual Week in Paradise fundraiser, and the early-bird drawing will take place Wednesday evening.

The drawing for “paradise” vacation packages is the agency’s biggest fundraiser of the year. The family advocate center uses the funds to help abuse victims in Yuma County and parts of Imperial County with their emergency needs.

This year 11 packages will be given away, with the early-bird winner drawn at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Z Fun Factory. The early-bird winner will receive four 2022 season passes to Waylon’s Water World and a day at Z Fun Factory for four with dinner, go-karts, miniature golf and arcade games; and two active recovery or therapeutic massages by Myolab.

The early-bird winner will also be entered for a chance to win one of the remaining 10 vacation prizes.


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