What have you learned from working here?
When people ask what I do and I say I work in domestic violence, usually the reaction is, “oh wow—that must be difficult.” In some ways it is, of course. But I think what inspires me is the courage and the strength of the women we work with. Women are faced with adversity and difficulty, and they find resources and strength to get through it. I’m always inspired.
What is the most rewarding aspect?
A lot of women grow and find their way, and it’s amazing to see them blossom. It’s also wonderful to see the change in children when they come to a safe place, and how they can change very quickly. Children are very resilient for the most part. As much as trauma in childhood is a difficult and challenging experience, if kids get the right intervention early on, they can get through it.
Savvy Rest has donated hundreds of pillows to the shelter over the past few years. How do donations like these make a difference?
It makes a huge difference to us. Obviously we have to supply bedding for all of the people who come here. Before Savvy Rest helped us, we weren’t using the wonderful quality pillows you provide us. It’s been so nice to have Savvy Rest give such a quality product to our women. So many of them say how wonderful it is for them to have a good night’s rest. And then the other beautiful thing is we’re able to let them take the pillow with them, which we didn’t do before because the cost would be too great for us.
Does the shelter have any particular goals for the future?
To end domestic violence. Our mission is to essentially put us out of business, which would be a beautiful thing. I don’t think that’s going to happen in my lifetime, but our goal is to be a safe and supportive place that women and children can come to in order to heal, find their feet, and move on. We want to be as accessible as we can for anyone who needs our services.
Are there ways people in the community can help?
Financial help is always very welcome. Running a 24-hour shelter is an expensive business. We have a lot of costs involved in that. We also take household donations, anything from toilet rolls to shampoo, to whatever is considered a basic need.
I’m pleased to say that we do have a lot of [women’s] clothing at the moment, so I’m not sure we need more of that right now. However, I think we have more need for small children’s clothing. And we always have a need for new women’s underwear. Diapers and feminine products are needed as well.
The other part is volunteering. We have a 24-hour hotline, and we rely on volunteers to help us with that. At any given time we’ll have about 50 active volunteers, but we can never have too many. We do have quarterly trainings for our volunteers. All of our volunteers are thoroughly trained. They need the proper information and skill in order to answer our hotline. Anyone can find out when the next volunteer training is by going to our website or calling us.
If someone doesn’t want to work directly with victims or children, they can always volunteer at one of our events. We do a variety of events throughout the year, and we’re always looking for help.
Is there anything we as a community should know about the shelter that we may not know?
One of our challenges is getting the word out, for a couple reasons. Domestic violence has been a hidden topic historically; people don’t want to talk about it. It’s getting better and being discussed more, so it has become much more of a community awareness. One of the challenges for us is how to be a presence in the community since our shelter has to be confidential. What we don’t have, which many other non-profits have, is the ability to put our clients out there and have them tell their stories. Some do, but most people don’t want [to tell their story]. It’s hard to let the public know what it looks like. Our challenge is having people realize the extent of what goes into getting someone back on their feet. These women are putting their lives back together, which is oftentimes a long task.
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