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Monthly Archives: April 2011

Next Door is looking for POWERful Teens!

POWER seeks to change the perception of teen dating violence from acceptable and inevitable to unacceptable, preventable and avoidable.

Power seeks to address teen dating violence through a multi-year, long-term approach that utilizes a peer-to-peer and popular education methodology to enact outreach campaigns that subvert the messages of gender inequity and tolerance of violence and abuse. This is a PAID internship.

If you, or someone you know, would like to be a part of this unique opportunity, please download the application here. For questions, please contact Crystal Talitonu at 408-501-7566.

Sex-Trafficking as Demi & Ashton’s New Celebrity Cause

Real men open their beer bottles with the remote control. Real men shave with a chainsaw. Real men don’t need bowls; they just pour their milk straight into the cereal box. Real men DO NOT buy sex slaves… or at least that’s what Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher want you to know through their series of “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls” PSAs.

Instead of making a rational argument against buying underage girls for sex, they went for “that offbeat feel of Funny or Die”, as Kutcher put it, and unfortunately, challenged viewers’ masculinity in the process. While I commend their attempt to raise awareness of child-trafficking, I just wish they would have attempted to include some substance in the process.

With the exception of anti-smoking campaigns, I can’t think of the last PSA I saw that targeted the offending party. I find it hard to believe that the population that participates in the sex-trafficking trade is going to be persuaded to stop just because they fear Justin Timberlake and Sean Penn won’t consider them to be a “real man”. Apparently, all the “unreal” man needs to teach him to how to act is a bunch of celebrities in a weird PSA campaign. Gosh, why didn’t we think of this sooner?

Sexual violence and rape culture is born out of misconceived ideas of masculinity. We see it all the time. When boys take a stand and others disagree, their comeback is often “don’t be gay” or “don’t be a sissy”. Remember the story of the 11 year-old Texas child who was assaulted and gang raped by a group of 18 men last month? I can guarantee that had one of those 11 men refused to participate in the assault, the other offenders would have told him to “man up” and just do it.  Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore telling sexual predators to “be a real man” only feeds into our already distorted gender roles. Do we really need to appeal to a man’s desire to not be a pansy to convince them not to support child sex-trafficking?

Don’t get me wrong. I actually do appreciate using humor to bring awareness to social issues, but I’m afraid to say that this one just falls flat. Awareness is great, but what’s the takeaway here? Where’s the call to action? Ashton and Demi had an opportunity to share and communicate an important message but instead, they just cast ending child sex-trafficking as the cool new celebrity cause.

Six Degrees of Separation

Recently, I pondered this concept in relation to domestic violence.  At its best, the phrase “six degrees of separation” engenders a sense of humanity.  If we are all connected in some way, it stands to reason we will treat each other with respect and kindness.  But six degrees of separation in our recent experience reminds us that the prevalence and severity of domestic violence also connects us to each other.

Here at Next Door, we have been eerily connected to three women who were murdered as the result of domestic violence.  Of course, our work centers on tragedy, that is essence of domestic violence.  But this recent phenomenon touched us in a new and different way.

Jennifer Schipsi was a client of Next Door Solution to Domestic Violence.  Paul Zumot, her batterer, was found guilty of her murder in the first degree and arson.  The effects of this murder rippled through Jennifer’s world, the world of her friends and family and the Next Door’s world of family and friends.  All of those touched became connected.

On the day after the jury announced the Zumot verdict, another article appeared in the Mercury News. Melanie Dunn had been found dead in her bed in her parents’ home.  She died as the result of a stab wound.  Her former boyfriend is on trial for her murder.  One of our wonderful interns knew Melanie well.  She mourns Melanie’s death.  As does Next Door, and Melanie’s friends and family, and their friends and families.  We are now all connected through her death.

This past Saturday, Susan Longdon and her estranged husband were found dead in their home.  Susan died of blunt force trauma to the head and he died of a bullet wound to his head.  All indications point to murder/suicide.  As it turns out, Susan worked for a company that also employs a member of our board of directors.  The employees of the company and their families and friends are now connected to our families and friends as we all mourn the violent death of Susan.

The connections in the three incidents are profound.   Of course the most obvious connection in this “six degrees of separation” formula is that all three women were leaving or had left their relationship.  It happens so frequently that researchers have a name for it – separation violence. The women probably didn’t know each other.  They were different ages and races.  But they are forever involuntarily bonded.

We all know women who are battered.  For most of us, it is not difficult to identify how we know these women and for the women directly affected, they are bonded together through their horrendous experience.  People say domestic violence is a private family matter and it’s a shame when it ends in death.  Fact of the matter is that we are all less than six degrees of separation when it comes to domestic violence.  Our entire community feels the blows and hears the vicious name calling.  We just don’t stand back and connect the dots.  We don’t look at the cumulative effect.

That is where our connection and humanity come into play.  We can connect the six degrees of separation in eliminating and preventing domestic violence.  In fact because we all experience this phenomenon in some way, we can’t make changes without our community coming together.  We can send this blog to family and friends and their families and friends and ask everyone to learn about, talk about, and act upon this vicious yet insidious social malady.  If you want to give this a try, call us.  We are, after all, within just six degrees of separation.

-Kathleen Krenek

Is California Next?

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Or at least that’s what Georgia legislators are using to defend their decision to completely eliminate state funding to battered women shelters. While that may sound extreme, I wouldn’t be surprised if other states soon started to follow suit.

Legislators in Georgia are prepared to eliminate all state money designated for domestic violence programs and instead replace the money with federal funds. Advocates are worried, and rightfully so, that this switch will severely limit the services domestic violence shelters can provide.

Governor Nathan Deal is attempting to use $4.4 million in federal welfare money- as allocated through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)- to fund domestic violence shelters. Though he has come under fire for this strategy, the budget has already passed in both the House and the Senate.

While the Governor may argue that using TANF money is a satisfactory solution, in reality it is an exclusionary policy that will prevent a large population from acquiring life-saving services. TANF restrictions prevent the use of the program’s money for services to single adults without children, a group that currently makes up an average of 31% of those who seek domestic violence services in the state. Many victims served by sexual assault centers may not qualify to benefit from TANF dollars based on their income and family status.

Further exacerbating the situation is that TANF money is not a guarantee. There’s a strong possibility that it may be decreased by the federal government, thus jeopardizing all services funded by the program. As the needs of domestic violence and sexual assault victims rise, now is not the time to displace women and children who often have nowhere else to go.

There’s no doubt that states across the union are experiencing massive budget shortfalls, but cutting the lifelines that many women depend on for peace and safety is not the solution.

To ensure that California does not suffer the same fate, please tell our Senators and Representatives that you value the safety of women and children and that they should too!

Donate a Cell Phone. Save a Life.

Thank You Juniper Networks for Supporting Next Door!

You can help Next Door Solutions, the clients we serve, and the environment all at the same time just by donating your used cell phones to our agency.

Here’s how it works- Next Door has a non-profit recycling partner who pays us for our unwanted cell phones.  Phones are then recycled in an environmentally-safe and responsible manner, with proceeds benefiting essential support programs for victims of abuse and their families.

If you would like to donate your unwanted cell phone, or wish to volunteer to hold a cell phone drive on behalf of Next Door, please contact Donna Knowlton at 408-501-7550 or dknowlton@nextdoor.org. To learn more about running your own employee cell phone drive for Next Door, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: I only have really old cell phones to donate that are no longer functional. Will Next Door accept those?

Answer: Absolutely.  Shelter Alliance doesn’t refuse any phone. Even if the phone cannot be used as is, they will recycle their parts to re-use in newer phones. Next Door will receive money from the sale of the phone’s parts.

Question: Where can I drop off the cell phones?

Answer: You can drop them off at our community offices, located at 234 E. Gish Road, Suite 200 San Jose, CA. 95112.

Question: I’m a student required to perform community service. If I hold a cell-phone drive for Next Door, will I be able to receive credit?

Answer: Yes! Students can receive community service hours through recycling. Register on our partner’s webpage and when you pledge to collect cell phones, Shelter Alliance will send you a packet and credit you with a certificate for the number of hours of service that you’ve earned. For every five phones you collect,  you or your organziation receives one hour of community service credit.

Question: I know you accept really, really old phones but will you also accept smart phones?

Answer: Absolutely! Make or model does not matter. In fact, Next Door can receive up to $100 for a smart phone!

Question: Do you need the phone charger or the manuals?

Answer: No, we do not currently have the space available for these items. But thank you.

Question: Is it safe to donate my cell phone? Will my information be shared?

Answer: If you are concerned about your security, we recommend that you erase all information from your phone and remove the memory chip completely. Shelter Alliance erases the data from the cell phones once they receive them.

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