As you can imagine, being forced to stay at home when home is not a safe place, provides additional challenges for our children and adults living with the devastating effects of domestic violence and abuse. Survivors have faced new obstacles in reaching out to resources, finding more limited time periods to make these important calls to ask for help.
Laura’s House staff was quick to pivot in all departments to continue to make sure that our clients’ needs were continuing to be met. The world was shutting down, but we could not. Our therapy department quickly changed all services and programs to a tele-health format, allowing our therapists to connect with our clients in new and safe formats, when clients were desperate for support.
At our Emergency Shelter health and safety protocols were immediately put in place so that we could continue to accept clients. Our children’s department stepped up to become teachers and worked with our local school district to get our children equipped with the proper technology to carry out their schooling virtually. Our amazing volunteers stepped forward to provide extra programming virtually to include meditation, cooking and some other offerings to enrich and enhance our clients’ stay with us.
As in-kind donation items were needed more than ever, our Fund Development department started reaching out to our generous community on Day 1 of the stay at home order. The team was in constant communication with all of the departments to understand their daily needs, from PPE, food, clothing and more. The support from the community was overwhelming, and we are so honored that our supporters stepped and continue to help fill our needs. As our normal process of getting supplies to our locations was no longer possible, the Fund Development department became delivery drivers to make sure that everyone in our organization still had what they needed.
Although our Resale Boutiques had to remain closed for a period of time, the work did not stop behind the scenes. We continued to sort donations and prepare for re-opening on a daily basis. When we were able to re-open our doors, we were ready to once again help support the community and our clients with minimal downtime.
Our Prevention Education department continued to work diligently to provide numerous community educational webinars bi-monthly, entitled Community Conversations, featuring guest speakers who are experts in covering topics such as technology and abuse, the legal restraining order process, impact of social isolation on teens and much more that can now be found on our YouTube channel. Our H.E.A.R.T ( Healthy Emotions & Attitudes in Relationships Today) youth teen dating abuse prevention program kept going virtually and we were able to conduct over 180 H.E.A.R.T. workshops last year. We also expanded our adult education, offering our newest course, Healthy Families on a monthly basis (a 3 part workshop, offered in a series of morning sessions and evening sessions). These workshops are offered free to the public and we have seen over 80 attendees each month. In total we have reached over 15,000 youth and adults during this pandemic through educational offerings.
Our legal team has experienced dramatic challenges in court filings and the restraining order process with the Courts being closed to the general public. It has been more difficult for clients to find the time in a safe space to complete their preparation work. We have noticed that many clients fear getting a restraining order while still living in the same home as their abuser, having less ability to move out of the home because of work and schooling commitments. This department knew that victims of abuse still needed this help, so they hosted a webinar Q & A sessions to discuss the legal process, the changes, and how they can safely navigate this with the help of Laura’s House.
All of the amazing work above could not have been done without the Laura’s House team, who are front line workers. They have risen to the challenges that the pandemic has presented. They have exercised resilience, much like the way we encourage and teach our clients to overcome their challenges on their journey to a life free of violence. We have all learned from each other, stepped outside of our comfort zones to help in any way we could, provided extra self- care and support to one another, and continued to work to serve the many individuals that need us. This is our greatest success, to know that through everything we continued as a strong team to make sure that we were there for all those who needed to access our supportive services. The pandemic may have been a road block, but not even a road block could stop Laura’s House. Our team is stronger together.