NAMPA — A Nampa shelter that provides housing and services for survivors of rape and domestic violence is struggling with a crisis of its own.
Ten of 17 employees at the Valley Crisis Center walked off the job last week, after issuing a written demand for overdue paychecks, according to current and former staff.
"I think they panicked and got into a mob mentality," said Yolanda Matos, director of the center. Matos has been associated with the center for 16 years, including eight as the director.
"I'm kind of in a state of shock," Matos said Tuesday. "I never believed they'd do this."
After consulting with officials at the Idaho Department of Labor, employees issued their demand for payment on Thursday 10 days after they were supposed to be paid.
Department of Labor officials said they have recently received 10 formal complaints from employees of Valley Crisis about not getting paid. The recent complaints are the only ones they have on record for the 30-year-old nonprofit, a department spokesman said.
The Valley Crisis Center has an annual operating budget of about $500,000. Matos said the center didn't receive some federal grant money needed to make payroll on time this month, but that the situation was being remedied. She said the employees who walked out would be paid in full this week, receiving checks sent to the labor department.
Two employees at the center staged a two-day hunger strike in late June to raise money for the center. They brought in about $5,000, one of the participants said.
The crisis center continue to offer some services, but the eight women and 15 children that were being housed there were moved last week to another safe facility.
Matos said she's now working to hire replacements for the employees who quit. The crisis center's board is meeting weekly until the situation is resolved, and the next meeting is Thursday.
"I stand behind our director," Valley Crisis Center board member Melissa Orcutt said Tuesday. She said the board and staff are working to get the shelter back open and to come up with a plan to address funding shortfalls.
Valley Crisis Center Board President Mike Wagoner, who is a sergeant at the Nampa Police Department, has not responded to requests for comment.
Katy Moeller: 377-6413