We are incredibly thankful for the compassionate support we received from our donors and friends in 2020. Throughout a very tumultuous year, you helped us continue doing what we do best – providing safety, shelter, and support for survivors 24/7, 365 days a year.
Last year, we worked with just under 1,000 unduplicated adults and children in all our programs, which is a pretty big decrease from 2019 but not unexpected given the circumstances. We did a lot of adapting and adjusting to ensure any victim and any survivor had access to our Advocates and programming. We knew that the steps taken to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 would be triggering for victims; we knew that many were trapped at home under the watchful eye of their abuser; we knew that child sexual assaults would increase, that child porn and child enticement would increase due to lots of time spent on the web; and we knew that having access to basic needs would be of utmost importance to many. And, as we come through the other side of 2020, we know we have yet to, and may not feel the full weight of, the ramifications that the pandemic had on victims for months or years to come.
However, serving less people doesn’t necessarily equate to less services provided or less expenses for our organization. In some situations, Advocates spent more time working with 1:1 with individuals and families because of the extreme trauma and vulnerability that was intensified last year and because there were very limited community resources available other than The Women’s Center to support them.
Here are a few highlights from 2020 that were only possible because of your support:
- Remained open and available 24/7. Our emergency shelter, confidential 24-Hour Hotline, and rape crisis continued around the clock uninterrupted.
- When coupled with the 7,000 calls we responded to our 24-Hour Hotline and our albeit limited Violence Prevention activities, we engaged with just over 9,000 individuals.
- Purchased tablets and laptop computers so virtual job interviews, telehealth sessions and screenings, and other virtual opportunities were available to all clients.
- Purchased supplies so our clients could make “coping toolkits” to use at home, which included kinetic sand take home bins, fidget cubes, and Tangles. These toolkits also provided family resources to help kids learn to shift energy away from a stressful situation and refocus themselves.
- Coordinated contactless pickups for food, hygiene items, diapers, formula, and other essentials.
- As a result of the increased financial assistance requests at the beginning of the Safer at Home order, and the delayed unemployment benefits, we created our own eviction prevention programming and secured funding to help clients with rent and utility bills. We also created a legal fund to help clients hire an attorney as many struggle to pay for one, especially for family court.
- Explored alternative ways to provide support groups and workshops and developed a podcast series to extend psycho-educational services to survivors, which we plan on continuing throughout the pandemic and beyond. Our Wednesday Workshop Podcast is listened to in 25 states in the US, and in 13 countries on our website, Spotify, and Google Podcasts.
- Created video content for adult survivors on topics such as self-care, empowerment, and safety planning and video content for our youngest clients with topics ranging from story time in English and Spanish, to lessons on goal planning, and setting boundaries.
- Added a new hospital collaboration for responding on the scene for SANE exams. Staff were trained at Aurora Summit, which provides 24-hour coverage for sexual assault survivors to receive medical treatment following an assault. This partnership is in addition to three other area hospitals and Carrol University.
- Due to our inability to be in classrooms, we provided information and topic-specific talking points on teen dating violence awareness and prevention for teachers to access on demand.
- Launched a new social media program on Instagram, called CONVO (Creating Opportunity for Nonviolent Outcomes), as a tool to connect with teens and youth to continue conversations about healthy relationships outside of school presentations.
- Prior to COVID-19, we made the decision to have all advocates trained and versed in providing legal advocacy. Many clients could finally electronically file Restraining Order paperwork with any Advocate at The Women’s Center. Additionally, clients can now attend court hearings, which are now live streamed, via Zoom. These changes have significantly reduced the number of barriers faced by survivors and increased their personal safety when engaged in the legal system.
- And so much more.
We are so grateful for the kindness so many have showed us and for the continued support of our mission – thank you. We look forward to keeping you updated throughout 2021!