CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A nonprofit organization that almost went under is getting back on its feet with a new director at the helm.
In two days, People Against Rape is hosting its annual march and vigil, Take Back the Night to raise awareness about sexual assault.
In 2012, thousands of dollars went missing from the organization, but now under new leadership, the executive director says they're committed as ever to serving the Lowcountry.
"People Against Rape is in a rebuilding stage," said Janie Lauve, PAR's new executive director.
Lauve has been on the job for two weeks. She used to work for the Lowcountry Food Bank and will now use her experience with nonprofits to help People Against Rape.
"It's been every difficult for the board to really rebuild and kind of keep things going," Lauve said.
The 2012 audit uncovered $80,000 missing from the non profits funds. The board of trustees blamed a bookkeeper, but the money was never recovered. The organization was forced to lay off 13 employees and lost $300,000 in grant money from the state health department.
"The board was very transparent with me about their history, I think the board and the organization was a victim themselves," Lauve said.
Now, including Lauve, they have three full time employees and one part time employee.
Their 24-hour crisis hotline is run by trained volunteers.
The health department has restored nearly $150,000 of their funding. PAR also receives funds from the North Charleston Police Department and private donors.
Their finances are now controlled by an independent accounting firm.
"We are definitely back on our feet," Lauve said.
Lauve says they're focusing on strengthening their partnerships with other local agencies like My Sister's House, MUSC and local law enforcement.
PAR's Take Back the Night event unites the community behind one cause - raising awareness to sexual assault.
"Most people believe that sexual assault or rape is someone jumping out of the bushes and attacking you, and really that only constitutes about 20 percent of sexual assault cases," said Lauve.
Lauve says their organization and these events are crucial to helping educate the community and support rape victims.
"I think the community should be able to continue to trust us," Lauve said.
The Take Back the Night march on Friday, April 2, starts at the Unitarian Church in downtown Charleston.
It begins at 7 p.m., when marchers will walk through the College of Charleston campus, ending at the church for a candlelight vigil.
People Against Rape is also hosting a daytime event in Marion Square on April 26 from 2 to 3 p.m. There will be speakers, live music, activities and food trucks.