MANKATO — When it comes to domestic violence, the advocates can usually be classified into one gender.
But the folks at CADA House are hoping a new program can bring more men into the equation.
The MENding Project aims to line up men who can offer specific services to women who are in the middle of a domestic violence-related crisis.
They've got a few partners lined up already, but they're looking for more.
"It's a business partnership within the community, businesses helping women in their community," said Emma Kind, a social worker at CADA House, which is an emergency shelter for women who are victims of domestic abuse and domestic violence.
"This project is men helping women, and it's really about trying to get men involved."
Kind brought the idea to CADA and launched it in early 2013. It's the brainchild of Chuck Derry and Ed Heisler, who have helped set up MENding Projects around the state with this motto: "Some men are ripping the fabric of our communities apart through sexual and domestic violence. Some men are repairing the harm."
The program works by establishing a network of men who can provide services to women who may need help as they rebuild their lives following domestic violence. They may need a lawyer to help them navigate an order for protection case, or a mechanic to help repair their car, or a plumber to make repairs in a new apartment.
One of the partners for CADA in Mankato is Matt Norland, a financial planner. Norland said he heard about the program last fall from Kind. The two attend the same church.
"You hear about the homeless, you hear about people who are hungry, you hear about kids who needs school supplies," Norland said. "You don't often hear about domestic violence."
He said he knows the program is in the early stages, but he wanted to be part of something that wasn't as well known and be proactive.
The program might be new, but domestic violence certainly isn't. Kind said CADA is seeing an increase in cases recently. From October 2011 to September 2012 there were 1,800 cases. The following year's same period saw 2,933. She said she's not entirely sure why there's been an increase, but part of it might be better education about CADA House and the resulting increase in women who seek help.
"I just think CADA and what the MENnding Project is doing is something unique," Norland said. "And hearing those numbers, it's quite alarming."
So they're looking for doctors, dentists, lawyers, plumbers, roofers, veterinarians — any man with a skill that can be useful to a woman in a time of crisis. Kind says a screening process will be in place to make sure women will be safe with every man CADA partners with.
Margo Dietz of the Mankato Area YMCA said the Y is also a partner.
"I was really excited when Emma came to us," Dietz said. "It really fits into our mission."
The Y helps CADA by giving CADA residents access to the Y. They give children of CADA clients swim lessons or let them visit Camp Patterson.
"So far the relationship has been flawless," Dietz said.