A Really Good Cause
Many of you who have been reading my blog have heard me talk about my Sister In Law, Mindy. For those of you who are new to Pink Lemon Twist, Mindy is the owner of the original Hanami Stole. The one in the picture on the pattern. That's her's. Mindy works for Genesis Women's Shelter in Dallas, Texas. Her current job is primarily fundraising for the Shelter and it's programs. Prior to this, she spent several years "in the trenches" with this organization. She answered the 24 hour hotline they operate, she was a case worker, helping women find the strength to pick up their lives and move on, she has been to court to help women fight back and become victims no longer. She has seen women go back to the men who are abusing them and she has seen women break out of the abusive relationship, regain their confidence, and learn to stand again on their own. In short, Mindy has seen and done it all with regards to making a difference against domestic violence.
"That's great, but what does this have to do with me?" you ask. Well, domestic violence is not just a women's issue, it is a societal issue. It affects all age groups, all economic levels, all racial groups, and all sexual orientations - unfortunately, it's a very equal opportunity epidemic. Let me give you some stats:
- 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence at some point in her lifetime. With this kind of number, odds are you know at least one person who has been or will be a victim.
- According to the FBI, a woman in the United States is battered every 12 seconds.
- Also according to FBI stats, domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women ages 15-44. More than car accidents, rapes and muggings - COMBINED!
- A boy who grows up in a violent home is 1500 (no, that's not a typo) times more likely to be an abuser as an adult.
- 85% of all men in Texas prisons grew up in violent homes. I don't have stats for the other 49 states, but I have a hard time believing that this is only happening within the Texas prison system or even only happening in the United States.
The Dallas Police Department answers over 20,000 calls a year for domestic disturbance, but there are only 100 safe beds in all of Dallas County on any given night. Genesis Women's Shelter is making a difference, but they are a non profit organization and they operate on our donations and contributions. They are 100% privately funded. They are not supported by the government or the United Way. While this means fundraising is even more crucial, it also means they can run their programs the way they need to, better meeting the needs of their clients, and allowing them the flexibility to respond in the best way for the situation.
What is the money used for? Since Genesis opened it's doors in 1985, they have developed a multi-faceted approach to helping women, breaking the cycle of violence by counseling children, partnering with law enforcement, and educating the community. The first contact many have with Genesis is through the hotline. This is answered 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They have an emergency shelter which is in an undisclosed location and will house a woman and her children for 6 weeks. During this time the women are given free counseling, the children have play therapy, and individual case management. There is a Job Readiness program to help women re enter the workforce. They also offer day care and after school programs for the children. After the 6 week period at the shelter, the women and their children can go into a transitional housing program which a 3 month program with free housing, free bills, a continuation of counseling and job readiness help to meet each family's needs. Beyond this program is an 18 month program called Annie's House. Again in an undisclosed location, Annie's House continues counseling programs, but also teaches clients to live on a budget, emphasizing saving 30% of income. Some women have graduated from Annie's House with over $40,000 saved. For those who will not leave their abusers (or who don't live with their abusers - domestic violence is also the term used for abuse perpetrated by a former boyfriend or husband), there are outreach programs providing counseling, play therapy, and case management.
Beyond addressing Domestic Violence after it has happened, Genesis works with local, state, and federal law enforcement officers, district attorneys, advocates, and anyone else who works with victims. Making sure that a victim of Domestic Violence gets the respect, assistance and services who will help her is an important part of breaking the cycle.
Finally, Genesis works with local middle schools, high schools, colleges, and community groups about the dangers of Dating Violence. Domestic Violence is a Learned Behavior and educating children is a crucial part of ending it.
All of the programs and assistance that Genesis provides are free of charge and funded by donations, fundraising drives and a thrift store that Genesis runs. If you are interested in donating to Genesis, here is a link to their online donation page. They also have a cookbook, Creating Comfort, which won the National Tabasco Award last year. From the $30 cost of the cookbook which includes shipping and handling, $25 goes entirely to shelter programs. It is also available online and makes a great gift.
If you or a friend are in an abusive relationship and want help, you can call 1-800-799-SAFE. This is the National Domestic Violence Hotline and they will help you find services in your area.