Think about the milestones you and your family experience in a given year, a given month, a given week: celebrating graduations, marking anniversaries, recognizing achievements large and small.
From shoe-tying lessons to birthday cakes, for the women and families we serve in our domestic violence shelters, these milestones don’t stop – and it’s our job to make sure they are still seen as celebrations, not additional challenges.
“Life happens, even while in shelter,” explained Mandi Chalmers, shelter navigator. “People turn a year older. Their children start a new grade in school or take their first steps while staying with us. It’s important that we help our clients maintain as much of a semblance of normalcy as they can, even if that means we have to think outside the box.”
Outside the corsage box, for instance. When staff realized that one shelter child had their first school dance approaching – but had left all their dress clothes at home before fleeing – they quickly stepped up. In just 24 hours, the team had gathered new dress shoes, accessories, and even matching corsages to ensure the child could attend in style.
“When you’re recovering from trauma and staying in shelter, you’re adjusting to a new normal,” Chalmers said. “Wherever we can, we want to eliminate stressors – however minor they may seem – and build our clients up. We want them to know they are supported, in ways both big and small.”
1 in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year, and 90 percent of these children are eyewitnesses to this violence. [Source] On average, YWCA Dayton’s 24/7 crisis hotline and domestic violence shelters – the only ones in Montgomery and Preble counties – serve 100 women and children, up to age 18, every day.