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Springfield nonprofit names first executive director

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Women's Medical Respite, a Springfield nonprofit founded in 2015, has named its first executive director.

Abigail Cool said her first day on the job was June 13, after graduating from Drury University in May with a bachelor's in behavioral and community health. She heard the nonprofit was hiring and applied.

"I really felt up to the challenge," she said.

Through Women's Medical Respite, homeless women who are ill have access to three beds housed at The Kitchen Inc.'s shelter. The nonprofit since its inception has provided services, such as no-cost shelter, food, transportation to medical appointments, assistance with medications and coordination of home health services, to more than 200 women in need, according to its website. The nonprofit's operating budget is around $300,000, Cool said.

"We're kind of a best-kept secret in town in regard to caring for homeless individuals," said Jan Weiss, board president for Women's Respite Center. "We're going to the next level of trying to grow and expand."

Cool said her initial goals include carrying out a board vision to expand service capacity.

"We are organizing ourselves and creating a game plan to expand our services," she said. "That would likely be another facility."

For Cool, her new role draws on past volunteer experience with domestic violence advocacy. She previously worked at a victim's center as a hotline responder, and she has experience educating faith leaders on how best to respond to abuse among their congregation.

"I care very much about vulnerable populations – those who don't have a voice," she said.

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