Category Archives: thoughts

Strategic networks that empower McLennan County youth

 

When shopping and you come across someone that looks familiar, one automatically stops and tries to figure out where they interacted with that person. If that interaction was positive, they may be prompted to ask where they know the person from or even mull over it before approaching. Curiosity is a normal human reaction to a familiar object, almost like déjà vu, you’ve experienced an encounter with that person or object just can’t put the puzzle pieces together.

If it is understood that curiosity is a natural human desire, why don’t we, as non-profits make an effort to implement initiatives that encourage a certain amount of interactions with prospective clients? There are strategic donation efforts in place that suggest one should interact or “touch” someone in their donorbase before asking for another donation. These “touches” range from personalized letters, biannual newsletters to attending events or even hosting events that potential donors would be interested in attending. Fundraising has been evaluated so extensively that researchers have concluded that seven touches, seven is the amount of times a donor should be touched by you or your organization should interact with the donor before asking for another donation. All of these suggestions are made to encourage relationship building and the “pay it forward attitude,” in the hopes that when one is thinking of nonprofits to contribute time and/or money to, the nonprofit would be at the forefront of the donor’s mind.

Nonprofits should proactively engage the client base as strategically as they seek the donorbase. The donor base may be fewer than the client base but the premise is the same, interact with prospects in a positive and continuous manner that prompts them to inquire about your organization and contribute either time or money.

BOOST is utilizing the fundraising concept and modifying it to connect with McLennan County youth. The reality is that many students do not have steady relationships with authority or leaders in the community. This reality has been the basis of our EMCeeS , Empowering McLennan County Schools, initiative. In the nonprofit community, the leaders are the emcees. Leaders are in control of the mic but we are in place to amplify the needs of the community. EMCeeS are building a network of resources for youth by developing strategic partnerships with organizations in the area, aiming to “touch” certain schools seven times whether it is in a partner organization, volunteering in a school program or presenting at their school. These measures we are implementing are seeking to gauge the McLennan County youth, a strategic play on a natural human desire, curiosity.

BOOST is a leadership development program focused on preventing teen violence. The program’s curriculum integrates preventative measures and leadership then seeks to empower the community by encouraging the ambassador to lead sessions after they complete their leadership development course. We are currently recruiting nine ambassadors for Spring 2016.

Follow BOOST on Facebook @facebook.com/boostwaco.org and Instagram @BOOST_FAC

Blog is written by Netta Mustin, BOOST’s Program Manager

Reflections on a quiet Friday evening — To Our Staff

As it gets quiet throughout the shelter on a Friday night, I am reminded of how much the staff of Family Abuse Center are dedicated to this great cause.

To each of you:

You work longer hours than you are required because you care and you can’t just stop caring.

You take extra time to talk to our children as they get off the school bus asking how their day was.

You go above and beyond to make sure that field trips and group go as planned.

You pick up that extra piece of trash sitting in the hall way when everyone else just walks on by.

You take your turn cleaning our common areas, so that we can use our money on more important things like helping our clients.

You donate to Family Abuse Center and United Way out of your small check because you believe in what we are doing.

You give a hotline call an extra minute or two because the client needs an extra moment to collect her thoughts.

You believe what seems unbelievable as the clients tell about the horrible situations and experiences that bring them to our shelter.

You close the door once in a while and shed a tear because we can’t always make everything perfect or right.

Sometimes you walk out into the parking lot and scream with rage at the injustice and system that often victimizes our clients again and again.

No one works at Family Abuse Center for the pay or because it is easy. We work here because we believe in the mission.  We are dedicated to eliminating domestic violence by sheltering victims and also by raising awareness about domestic violence.

We are working hard to put Family Abuse Center out of business. I pray for the day when our services are no longer needed.

Thank you for all your hard work and your dedication to Family Abuse Center.

 

A safe place and a listening ear!

The work of Family Abuse Center is difficult. Our clients come to us because of a crisis in their home.  Many don’t know where to turn for help.  Often they have used up all the family relationships and friendships in the past.  Too often they aren’t sure whether they even want help, let alone where do they find the help they need or what kind of help they need.  Our job is to provide what they need so they can find long term safety and stability.

One of the first things you learn when you come to work in a domestic violence shelter is that the client is the expert of her own situation. She knows what might trigger a violence and dangerous response from a person, who professes to love her, but also has threatened or harmed her.  She knows the details of the situation that no one else knows about or understands.  No matter how much she has been beaten, she knows what her dreams are and where she hopes her life will take her. She is the best person to make decisions about her life.

One of the most important gifts that we can give those who come for shelter at Family Abuse Center is a safe place to reflect and assess. During those first 14 days, so many big decisions are made by our clients.  Some choose to follow through on offers of assistance from family members.  Some choose to go back to their homes and try to make the relationship work. Some leave the state or move to another city.  Many become determined to make it on their own.  Our job is to give them space to make their own decisions.  They don’t need pressure.  Some will ask for advice.  Many need resources and we can help them find those. Ultimately, they have to make decisions for themselves and their children.

A mother in the shelter recently told me that she wanted to provide for her child and live in a violence free home on her own. Some days she wakes up feeling confident and secure.  She is ready to take on the world.  But some days, she is fearful.  What if she can’t pay the rent?  What will happen to her child if she can’t make it?  How will she make ends meet with such a low paying job?  How can she find hope and support in the community?

Our job is to listen to her. We can’t make promises but we can provide hope and support.  We can find resources in our community to help her on those difficult days.  Every day I am amazed at the wonderful work of our case managers who know so much about resources in our community and who are so skilled at listening.  But more importantly, they make the time to just listen and reassure our clients.  In the end, all the decisions need to be made by our clients.  But we can make room for them to make the best decision they can for themselves.  And we hope that our support and care helps them find their way in the difficult world that they are living in.

 

 

The Impact of Volunteering

A few years ago, Rebecca was a volunteer with her sorority sisters from Baylor Alpha Chi Omega. She was a student at Baylor and the work she did with Family Abuse Center was the usual kind of work that this chapter of Alpha Chi does for us.  They work with our kids.  They provide meals for the clients.  They plan special events for the families.  There is so much they do at Family Abuse Center.  They made eliminating domestic violence a priority.  We love all those volunteers, but usually we don’t know much about what they do when they graduate or leave Baylor.

But yesterday, Rebecca had an amazing impact on Family Abuse Center. Rebecca is the wife of Robert Griffin III.  She and her husband came by Family Abuse Center and surprised us with a major donation.  When they arrived in the parking lot, my first thought was, “How did they know our location?” Yes, there are many people in Waco who do know. To protect our clients, our location is confidential and private.  Therefore, almost no one just shows up at our shelter.

Rebecca knew exactly where we were located because she was a volunteer here years ago. Robert said that Family Abuse Center was a priority for their new foundation “Family of 3” before all the scandals this year in the NFL.  They had talked about assisting Family Abuse Center.  Why?  Because Rebecca was a volunteer here and she spent time learning about domestic violence while she was a student at Baylor University.  Alpha Chi Omega does more than provide volunteers.  They educate students about dating violence and provide support for students who might be in an unhealthy relationship.  They help Baylor students understand a world that may be very different than their own.  Baylor takes pride in helping students learn what their “mission” is in life.  Alpha Chi Omega assists with that in many ways.

We can’t thank enough Robert and Rebecca for their generous gift. This was a rare chance for us to be reminded of the impact of volunteering on the person who volunteers. What do they learn about the world outside themselves?  How many other of our volunteers are now helping eliminate domestic violence in their communities because of their experience here at Family Abuse Center?  We will never know.  But we are reminded to keep on opening the doors for those who want to help us with this important mission. Anyone who wants to volunteer should fill out the form on the Family Abuse Center website.  Our Volunteer Coordinator will get right back to you about the next trainings for volunteers.

Thank you, all volunteers for your work here and in the future. Thank you, Robert and Rebecca. We are now part of the “Family of 3.”

 

Kathy Reid

Executive Director

Family Abuse Center

Washing Dishes — “These are a few of my favorite things”

Last week, I again had the opportunity to help fill here at Family Abuse Center working in the kitchen helping our Resident Advocate out.  One of our staff had a family emergency and several of us pitched in to help.  Working in the kitchen is certainly one of the most challenging jobs we have at the shelter and perhaps is least valued.  It is a lot of like my home.  No one seems to notice when the dishes and the kitchen are clean, but leave the pans crusty and smelly in the sink — everyone notices.  When there are more than 45 women and children living in the shelter, the cooking and cleaning is a big job.  Last year, Family Abuse Center served more than 23,000 meals.  This year we will top 25,000.  That is three meals a day for each client living here.

The good news is that the kids are in school so that is fewer people at lunch time. Even so I walked into the kitchen to see  the mound of disgusting plates piled high.  Yes, we have a wonderful dishwasher, but each plate must be scrapped and rinsed.  Then it is loaded into the dishwasher.  We have procedures that the Health Department approves.

So I spent several hours just cleaning up.  The menu had been sausage and the overnight RA had baked several cakes for dinner that night.  So in addition to the utensils and the plates, there were those pots and pans. I was often interrupted by clients asking for something, which proved to be a happy distraction.

I found myself singing while I washed and I began to realize that I basically love washing the dishes and cleaning up the kitchen.   My husband accuses me of being a “neat freak”, but that comment comes from someone who would actually be happy living in a college dorm.  Perhaps I do enjoy looking around the kitchen seeing everything in the right place and all the dishes stacked and sanitized.  But I get enough of that feeling at home.

That is not why I enjoy washing the dishes at the shelter.  I know I love washing the dishes because often it is the only concrete definitive thing that I can name at the end of the day that I have done for someone else.  Too often, I can’t solve the client’s custody battle with their abuser.  I can’t change the judge’s ruling.  Too many times, I can’t make the healing speed up.  I can’t make the bad memories go away for a client.  All too often, I can’t change the stress of living in close quarters in an emergency shelter.  All too often I feel overwhelmed by the grief and sorrow that we see in the faces of the women and children living at the shelter.  And I just want to do something – something helpful, tangible, and useful.

Many years ago I challenged myself in an Ala Non meeting to try to do at least five good deeds a day unnoticed by anyone.  It is easy to do things that you get rewarded or praised for.  I try to do five nice things for someone each day and if they notice that I’ve done something for them, then it doesn’t count.  I love helping someone  when they don’t even notice that I’m there.  I don’t want to do things for others just because the act itself is reward enough.  Often I don’t see the end result of the action I’ve taken.  I just hope that my deed has made a little brighter, a little easier, — for maybe just that day. For all of those reasons, I love washing the dishes at the shelter.  It is my small way of making life a little easier for the staff and the clients.  I think I’ll try my best to add washing the dishes to my “Executive Director” calendar.  I will sleep easier at night, knowing I’ve done something tangible for someone — especially if they haven’t even noticed that I helped. I’ll be happy if I can take a turn at washing the dishes and that will encourage me in the more challenging parts of my job that can’t be so easily solved and are much more difficult to define and see.

 

Kathy Reid, Executive Director

Family Abuse Center