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

KaBoom Playground

Family Abuse Center is so fortunate to be selected for a new playground on our property.  KaBoom is a national recognized organization whose goal is to promote play with playgrounds in partnership with high need communities across North America.  They have partnered with Blue Cross / Blue Shield to put in a beautiful new playground at our shelter. Our current playground was a gift from the Junior League many years ago and originally was located at previous Family Abuse Center site.  It was transplanted to our current location.  Some of the playground has been removed because it has fallen into disrepair.  Most of the playground doesn’t meet new safety standards.

So the first step in getting the new playground was in designing the playground.  More than 25 kids and their parents and staff joined together to think about what makes a great playground.  The kids then drew a playground that respresented what they really wanted: swings, slides, zip lines, animal habitats (yes, some of our kids wanted real live animals living on the playground) and much more.  Parents reflected on what play meant in their lives and what they remember about a great playground.  All their thoughts and feelings were recorded so that three custom playgrounds could be designed for our space.

Just this week the kids looked at the three designs and with the help of Ms. Brittany, our Children’s Coordinator, they selected the one they liked best.  And they recommended the colors for the new playground (purple and blue).

How can you help?  There are several ways to support this effort.  First of all, Family Abuse Center has to raise the matching funds to the generous support by Blue Cross/ Blue Shield.  We also need cash donations to help us with the side projects and the expenses of preparation that are required with the project.

Secondly, we need volunteers.  We need volunteers on the prep-days to get everything ready for the build-day. Build Day will be on December 14.  We need about 100 volunteers to help build, provide food for the volunteers and generally make it all happen.  The best way to volunteer is to contact Amy Reagan our volunteer coordinator: amy.reagan@famiyabusecenter.org.

Keep looking at our website for more information, as well as pictures of this wonderful event.  Just in case you are wondering, we are donating all useable playground equipment back to the Junior League to give to another Waco charity.


Improving the Educational Opportunities for Kids in our Shelter

Experts often say that every child who changes classrooms during the year may lose as much as six months of their education.  The children living in Family Abuse Center are lucky if this is the first move they have made this year.  All too often, they have jumped from school to school, sometimes with big gaps between school attendance.  While many of our kids are extremely bright, they haven’t been given the opportunity to have a stable education.  As many as are behind in school, there are many who are actually talented and gifted.  Most of our kids are eager to learn and excited about having an educational opportunity.

Family Abuse Center provides many services to the children living in the shelter.  Our Children’s Coordinator, Brittany, oversees group three times a week where the children are in age appropriate groups learning social skills, enrichment activities and play.  Our Counselor, Lizeth provides individual counseling, as well as opportunities for the children to have therapeutic play activity.  The Homework Lab is open every day after school with volunteers and staff assisting each child on their assignments for the next day and allowing the children time to enrich their education with educational computer activities.  Our computers and computer materials were donated by the Rapoport Foundation. Whether a child spends one day or several months in our shelter, our goal is that his/her education has been enriched during his/her stay here at Family Abuse Center.

Just recently, the Waco Independent School District released statistics for the 2012-2013 grant cycle for the Waco ISD Homeless Outreach Services:

Attendance Rate for all homeless students in WISD: 95.35%

Gradduation Rate for homeless seniors in WISD: 93% (the graduation rate for homeless students in the state of Texas is less than 25%)

Those statistics include the children living at Family Abuse Center or in our housing programs in the community.  Congratulations to all.


Waco’s Stars – Wonderful Donations of Food!

Last Thursday night, supporters of Family Abuse Center spent an evening at the Phoenix Ballroom enjoying local talent and eating the best food in town.  Our Annual Fundraiser was one event during October Domestic Violence Awareness Month.   We want to thank our generous sponsors who provided an amazing feast for all those who attended.  We also want to thank the Phoenix Ballroom for letting us use their beautiful space.

  • Blanek’s Custom Catering
  • Casa de Castillo
  • Chuy’s
  • Coca-Cola Bottling Co.
  • Festive Occasions
  • George’s
  • Glazer’s Distributors
  • Kim Klaras
  • Lula Jane’s
  • Michna’s Bar-B-Que
  • On the Border
  • Raising Cane
  • Salty Dog
  • Secret Chef
  • Texas Roadhouse
  • Vitek’s Bar-B-Q
  • Waco’s Bestyett Catering
  • Waco Custom Meats and Seafood

Thank you for a wonderful evening.

Silent Witness – 2012 Women Killed

During Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we take time to remember women who were murdered by an intimate partner, especially those in the state of Texas. Last year (2012) there were 114 women killed in the state of Texas. Three of those victims lived and died in the service area of Family Abuse Center. One in Hill County and two in McLennan. All the names can be accessed at the website of the Texas Council on Family Violence. Each confirmed fatality includes the date of the woman’s death and the city in which she was killed, followed by a short description of the circumstances relevant to the murder.

Hill County:
Judy Cryer Thomas, 57
Larry Thomas, 62, shot and killed his wife Judy in the bedroom of their home. Thomas then shot and killed himself. Their son discovered their bodies when he arrived for a visit. Judy is survived by her adult son.

McLennan County:
Carol Jean Wagner, 60
Jerry Borchardt, 61, suffocated and killed his ex-girlfriend Carol in the bedroom of her home. Carol’s son found her several days later. Authorities charged Borchardt with Carol’s murder after he confessed. Carol is survived by her son.

Kimberly Farr Petetan, 41
Carnell Petetan Jr., 36 shot and killed his wife Kimberly in her home. On the night of the murder, neighbors heard fighting and then gunshots, some of which entered neighboring homes. After killing Kimberly, Petetan kidnapped her 9 year old daughter. Law enforcement arrested Petetan during a traffic stop where they found Kimberly’s daughter physically unharmed. Neighbors report Petetan had a history of family violence. The murder occurred five months after Petetan completed a prison sentence for attempted murder. Prosecutors indicted Petetan for the murder of Kimberly. Kimberly is survived by her 9 year old daughter, two adult sons, and an adult daughter.

Join staff and community members at the Suspension Bridge on October 22 at 5:30 to take a few moments to remember the women killed in our area. Please remember all women who lost their lives due to domestic violence and the countless others who are not on this list, as well as those still suffering each day living with domestic violence.