Siouxland woman receives national award for courage

Local News

SIOUX CENTER, Iowa (KCAU) –  A Siouxland woman was recently recognized in the nation’s capital for her courage through adversity and her work helping others.

“My daughter, when she was 15-months-old, was brutally raped and beaten she was left in an abandoned car to die,” said Kastein.

Shari Kastein endured a mother’s worst nightmare 30 years ago. 

“She fought for her life for four days at a trauma center,” said Kastein. 

Her young daughter pulled through, but their future was still uncertain.

“I was a single mom at that time. I was leaving an abusive marriage. I had a protection order. It was just me and my daughter,” she said.

Still hurt and wounded, Kastein did not have a safe place to take her injured daughter when they were released from the hospital. 

“They had me go to a battered women’s shelter. I just remember thinking there is a reason for this. There is a reason that this has happened,” Kastein said.

From that point on, Kastein made it her mission to help others in desperate situations.

“I got to be a voice I want to be a voice for others,” said Kastein.

She opened her first crisis shelter in Redfield, South Dakota and then moved to Sioux Center.

“I never talked about my story publicly until I came to Sioux Center and the community just really wrapped their arms around me as a single mom. I started talking about what happened in our lives, and people reached out to help me and I said I’m okay, but how can we help others,” said Kastein.

She now runs Family Crisis Centers, an organization that helps thousands of people all over Iowa. 

“She has had an impact on a tremendous amount of people. She has an impact on her staff every day. I think she inspires and motivates our staff to do the work that they do,” Raman said.

Tara Raman works at the Family Crisis Center and nominated Kastein for the Special Act of Courage Award.

“She has impacted countless victims and survivors not only in Iowa but South Dakota,” said Raman.

And she doesn’t plan to stop anytime soon.

“There is so much more that I want to do,” said Kastein. 

Kastein said if you are a victim of domestic violence, sexual violence, human trafficking, homicide or any other violent crime, call the Family Crisis Center hotline at 1-800-770-1650. Someone will be there to pick up any time of the day.

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