You Can Help Domestic Violence Shelters Make Life-Saving Differences

05-26-2017 8:49 AM

Editor’s note: Jennifer Cook reminds us in today’s post how domestic violence shelters meet urgent and long-term needs of domestic abuse victims and how we can all help.

The Mary Kay Foundation℠ recently completed its 2017 domestic violence shelter grant selection process, reviewing more than 720 applications.  Yes, we read every application!

The Foundation will announce grant recipients in late September,  in honor of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October.

 In 2000, when The Foundation expanded its mission to include eliminating domestic violence against women, members of the Board of Directors visited the National Domestic Violence Hotline in Austin, Texas.  Board members asked those manning the phone lines what was the most urgent need. Their reply: “Keeping the shelters open.” 

They also expressed frustration at talking with a woman on the phone who urgently needed a safe place to go and being unable to find a shelter to help her.  So keeping the shelters open has become the major focus of The Foundation’s domestic violence prevention funding.

When I read the grant applications each year, I am always impressed by how much is accomplished with small staffs and small budgets by domestic violence shelters around the United States.

I was reminded of this recently when I spoke at the 16th Annual Tribute To Women to support the YWCA’s shelter in Pueblo, Colo., a 2014 Foundation shelter grant recipient.

First on my agenda was to visit the shelter and meet the staff and board.  What a dedicated team!  Each staff member I spoke with is passionate about helping women.

With a budget of less than $807,000, they accomplish so much.  During 2016, the YWCA of Pueblo helped thousands of people through these important programs:

  • Co-location Program – A case manager housed at the local Department of Social Services family service center screens incoming clients for a history of domestic violence and trains fellow social workers: served 53 adults and 116 children.

  • Community Presentations –Various community presentations reached 581 adults.

  • Counseling – Adult and child individual and group counseling programs served 99 adults and 48 children.

  • Walk-in Clients – Programs or referrals to appropriate community resources aided 185 adults and 124 walk-in clients.

  • Residents – Provided safe, secure housing to 70 adult women and 67 children.

  • Safe Dates© – Presented curriculum that helps teens recognize differences between a healthy relationship and an abusive relationship, and teaches them skills to use if they are in an abusive relationship and how to access community resources: 11 adults and 364 middle and high school students served.

  • Supervised visitation and safe exchange center – Provided services to 71 parent victims, totaling 463 safe exchanges and 637 supervised visits.

One of my favorite programs they offer is play therapy. Play Therapy Counselor Kate Booth is well-known in Pueblo for the court-ordered classes she teaches for domestic violence offenders, “Effects of Domestic Violence on Children.” Monthly classes are also open to the public. 

Domestic Violence Services Director Patty Kester, a 10-year staff member, exudes calmness and caring invaluable characteristics for someone in her role. Pattys says, “Program participants who succeed do so because they are committed to improving their lives. The domestic violence services staff is there to give encouragement, guidance and community resources, and provide a rent-free safe place while residents heal and learn to thrive. We provide the stepping stones; each victim walks her own journey to a safer more fulfilling life.”

From the more than 720 grant applications The Mary Kay Foundation℠ received this year, we will award 150 grants of $20,000 each, totaling $3 million, to shelters across the United States.

But our vision is larger!  We want to keep more domestic violence shelters open! 

Won’t you join us in this mission by making a donation at www.marykayfoundation.org. I can testify that each dollar donated to shelters is well spent.

Do you have a story about supporting a domestic violence shelter? Please tell us in the comments below!

Jennifer Cook is the Director of The Mary Kay Foundation℠ and is also a Mary Kay Foundation Board Member. Having been a part of the Company since 1971, she worked closely with Mary Kay Ash and saw first-hand Mary Kay’s generous and fervent heart toward raising money for cancer research, her involvement in supporting Dallas’ first domestic violence shelter and her tenderness toward those going through difficult times.