Steps to HOPE welcomes new executive director
BJ Bayne began July 1 at Polk’s domestic violence shelter
COLUMBUS—Polk County’s domestic violence shelter has a new, but familiar face to lead operations.
Former Polk County Sheriff’s Office and Tryon Capt. BJ Bayne was hired as Steps to HOPE’s new executive director. She began employment on July 1.
Bayne said she wants to bring more awareness about Steps to HOPE to Polk County, Landrum and Campobello, the communities the shelter serves.
She said she also wants to increase fundraising to be more effective in promoting prevention and to better meet the needs of clients.
“Throughout my career in law enforcement, I have always been an advocate for victims,” Bayne said. “I have seen unspeakable scenes that could have possibly been prevented with early intervention and a strong support system for a person in a vulnerable position and I want to promote that.”
Bayne has spent most of her career in law enforcement and was the county’s first domestic violence investigator, working closely with Steps to HOPE.
“I am excited and energized by the thought of leading Steps to HOPE into a long, prosperous future,” Bayne said. “My knowledge of domestic violence and sexual assault and the impact those crimes have on families, especially children, along with my law enforcement experience have given me a better understanding of the people we serve.”
Bayne said she knows the resources and partners available to help Steps to HOPE in its mission.
“Additionally, I was born and raised in our service area and I understand and appreciate the uniqueness of this wonderful place I have always called home,” she said. “I will make sure we make a real, tangible difference in our community and in the lives of my friends and neighbors who desperately need our help.”
Steps to HOPE began in 1985 after a small task force was formed by the Thermal Belt Business and Professional Women, Inc. to study domestic violence in the area.
A state grant provided the seed money and a non-profit was formed.
Steps to HOPE is operated through grants and donations and has a board of directors as well as the executive director, who oversees the shelter and the Second Chance Thrift store, located at 232 E. Mills St., Columbus. The shelter takes monetary donations as well as gently used household items, clothing and furniture for the thrift store and volunteers are always needed.
Bayne said anyone who is ever in immediate danger should call 911. Anyone needing help to remove themselves from a harmful relationship can call Steps to HOPE 24 hours a day at 828-894-2340 or visit the website at stepstohope.org.