|POSTSCRIPTS – Is your HomeSafe?|
|Wednesday, August 11, 2010|
By MARGARET PARTEE
Is your HomeSafe? You’d like to think that your home is one place you can always be safe. But what if it isn’t? There are women who are not safe in their own homes. These women are from all backgrounds and from all neighborhoods. They are women who suffer from domestic violence.
No one in my home has ever hit me, you may say. They don’t have to. Domestic violence is anything that happens as a way to control another person. It may be physical abuse; it may be threats and name calling; it may be a basic need such as food being withheld; or perhaps movement outside the home is restricted. It could be many other things. It does not have to be a physical blow.
I recently attended a meeting to learn more about the mission of HomeSafe in Wilson County. Their Mission Statement is to provide a safe place for survivors and their children; to help them explore
alternative ways of living; and to change the systems and institutions that condone and support violence. HomeSafe was started in Sumner County in 1983 and by 1990 grants had provided funds for them to expand into Wilson and Robertson Counties. Now these three shelters can provide safety for up to 32 women and children per night.
It is not easy to leave a violent relationship. Reasons for delay can be due to money, family pressures, fear for the children or because the woman keeps believing her abuser will change. If a woman decides to leave or to stay she can still get free help and information from domestic violence programs. HomeSafe HelpLines operate 24 hours a day and advocates are always there to answer the calls and provide a listening ear and concerned advice. All services provided by HomeSafe are free and confidential.
The meeting I attended gave potential volunteers in the program information about HomeSafe facilities and about their continuing need for help of all kinds. HomeSafe is funded through grants and private donations and through fundraising when resources are in place. This is why volunteers are so important in this program. One thing I discovered I could do to help is write a column for the newspaper. So I am!
They can always use a handy man/woman for painting, seasonal cleaning and lawn maintenance. Assistance with fund raising is needed. There is clerical work to be done, since grants (i.e. the government!) require a lot of paperwork. Someone to pick up and document donations would be helpful as their street address is rarely given out due to the need for protective measures. If you can speak at a civic or church group, or keep brochures stocked at various locations, or help staff a booth at community events they would love to hear from you.
Currently there is one of those little barn looking outbuildings on their property that is in dire need of a good emptying which will then result in a need for cleaning and at the end of this journey a need for shelving and storage spaces built in it. A Girl Scout troop has begun this project but it is a massive one and they need help. The Scouts have already redone two bedrooms in the home and are at the top of the THANK YOU list for HomeSafe!
Another inside project that would be appreciated is the construction of a play area for the children who are often there. The large kitchen-dining area can accommodate such an area but needs someone handy with tools to fix it up.
Of course you cannot just walk up and say here I am I want to help. Because of the sensitive nature of the work and the need for the protection of the residents, you must fill out an application that includes three references before having any contact with the home and its residents. Also you will be asked to go through a volunteer training session with the HomeSafe advocates.