MARQUETTE — An organization dedicated to helping victims of domestic violence and sexual assault celebrated four decades of serving the community Tuesday.

The Women’s Center is the longest-standing organization in the state that offers services for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. The center and its Founding Mothers were awarded a Congressional Recognition Statement from Senator Carl Levin honoring their work in the community.

“We’re thrilled with the honor, and we couldn’t have done it without years of people volunteering and supporting and a whole community that’s part of this movement,” Women’s Center board president Martha Parks said.

The center is also starting a new program called the Sasawin Project. The program provides a safe place for companion animals of survivors of domestic violence that would be staying at the Harbor House.

“We know from the statistics that many survivors — many women — will not leave their abusive situation situations if they have to leave their animals behind, their companion animals,” NMU professor Helen Kahn said. “And if they do leave them behind, companion animals are a target of abuse. And so this allows the Women’s Center extend their services and hopefully encourage not only more survivors to consider coming to Harbor House, talk to Harbor House, talk to Women’s Center, but also to let the public know that we have now have a mechanism for caring for their companions through our foster network.”

The program is a collaboration between the Women’s Center, NMU and UPAWS. It just received its first grant Tuesday as well, worth $3,000 to jump start the project.