LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Center for Women and Families is getting a $2.5 million grant to help those impacted by domestic violence.

The money comes from the Bezos Day 1 Families Fund. The Center is one of 40 organizations nationwide awarded a grant.

The fund was launched in 2018 by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to award organizations that help families reach stability. The Center for Women and Families says it will use the grant to support families facing skyrocketing rent costs.

"But like most situations are thinking, 'well, that's a lot of money. We may not get that.' And so when we received the announcement that we did, we were ... I was shocked. I was just like, you know, feel like I won the lottery," Elizabeth Wessels-Martin, president and chief empowerment officer at The Center For Women and Families, said.

The money will also improve and expand access to emergency shelter services, as well as programs for survivors and their children.

"With intimate partner violence on the rise in our area, including local deaths doubling over 2021, this gift from the Day 1 Families Fund could not have come at a more critical time," Wessels-Martin said in a statement. "So many survivors turn to us in the midst of a personal safety crisis, and they're counting on us to provide a safe place for them and their children as they take steps toward building safer lives."

Wessels-Martin said domestic violence homicides doubled in 2021. Something Wessels-Martin hopes the next chief of the Louisville Metro Police Department can help alleviate an emphasis on under Louisville's next mayor, Craig Greenberg.

"I'm very hopeful. We have this money. We can help provide those services. We have a wonderful new mayor who I look forward to having conversation with and I know that he will select the right police chief that again, will bring the attention back to domestic violence that this community needs," she said.

She said federal funding has been cut, totaling about $300,000 over the last three years.

"I don't want people to think that 'Oh, the center is fine. We don't have to keep giving,' because that is not true. We are always going to have to fundraise because everything we do is 100% free. That's not going to change," Wessels-Martin said.

The center expects to see the money in the next few weeks and changes are expected to start in January.

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