Next Door is delighted to announce that the Summit League has chosen Next Door as their primary beneficiary for their bi-annual Homes for the Holidays Fundraising Event. Please visit their website to learn more.
Over a dozen volunteers from Junior League of San Jose (JLSJ) showed up for the “Extreme Makeover, Nonprofit Edition” which took place on March 10 at Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence in San Jose, California.
Their mission was to organize, rearrange, and clean the Kids Club, a classroom-like space where kids who have been exposed to domestic violence are encouraged to play, learn, and harness their creativity through arts and crafts. Kids Club helps children ages 5 – 12 increase their emotional resiliency, develop non-violent conflict resolution skills, cultivate safety, and provide assets that will help them avoid future risks. When they arrived, the room was brimming with old games, books, and art supplies.
The JLSJ team, led by event co-chairs Laurel Sevier and Monika Krach, contributed over 42 hours of volunteer service to help with the cleaning and reorganization. They transformed the once conventional play space into one a space that enhances creativity, healing, and development for those children served by Kids Club. The new and improved Kids Club now includes a reading nook for little ones who want to curl up and read a book, a homework area, and a larger seating area where kids can engage with one another and explore their feelings through art. In addition, it includes a new selection of puzzles and games. A big THANK YOU goes out to our JLSJ volunteers.
The Junior League of San Jose is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and to improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. For more information on joining the Junior League of San Jose, please visit www.jlsj.org.
Here is what our Kids Club looked like after the Junior League volunteers were done!
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KGO) – A woman who was raped by her husband is asking California legislators to change a law so she and other sexual assault victims don’t have to pay alimony to their rapists.
There was no happy ending for the marriage between Shawn and Crystal Harris, a couple from the San Diego area. It ended in divorce after he was convicted of sexually assaulting her and sentenced to six years in prison. One attack was caught on tape.
“He also choked me, beat me and threatened to kill me, all while our two preschool age boys were awake upstairs,” Crystal Harris said.
The successful financial analyst recounted that horrible night four years ago to lawmakers, hoping they’ll change the law. A family court judge ordered her to pay her ex-husband $1,000 a month in alimony upon his release, plus $47,000 in attorney fees.
“It mattered not that being ordered to pay my husband’s spousal support every month amounted to making a rape victim write a check to her own rapist every month,” Harris said.
A California judge said he couldn’t order no spousal support in a 12-year marriage where the husband made $100 a month and the wife made $11,000 a month. Harris says she feels victimized twice.
There’s already a state law that prohibits spousal support when the significant other is convicted of attempted murder. Assemblywoman Toni Atkin’s bill would add sexually violent felonies to that, something the Association of Certified Family Law Specialists opposes.
“We should not be adding crimes to this section,” Jill Barr with the Association of Certified Family Law Specialists said. “We seem to be going down a slippery slope and one wonders where we will draw the line ultimately.”
Barbara Bentley championed the 1995 California law banning alimony and retirement pay after her husband tried to kill her. She can’t believe how 17 years later, courts haven’t learned from her case.
“Unfortunately, we have to fight for every little scrap of progression in the laws,” Bentley said.
The committee approved the bill 6-1 with bipartisan support. If it’s signed into law, Harris will still have to pay her ex-husband’s $46,000 legal bill, but he would not be eligible for spousal support.
See the whole story at KGO’s website.
Opposition is forming in Congress to the renewal of a landmark 1994 law against, of all things, domestic violence. It is inconceivable that lawmakers could erode progress made in this area for the sake of partisan election-year politics — or, for that matter, what constituency they’re hoping to attract. Do batterers vote Republican?
Like birth control, this is one more endangered policy, primarily affecting women, that once seemed beyond question. Failure to renew the law would derail important protections for battered partners of both genders.
Almost 18 years ago, Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act to provide funding for law enforcement and community organizations to help victims of domestic violence and bring their attackers to justice. The latest reauthorization was introduced by a bipartisan group of co-sponsors late last year, but it failed to get a single Republican vote in the Senate judiciary committee last month. Democrats got it out of committee, but it faces a vitriolic debate.
How times change. Twice before, the U.S. Senate has renewed this law — in 2000 and, during Republican George W. Bush’s presidency, in 2005. The votes were not just bipartisan but unanimous. This time it’s facing a buzz saw of criticism from social-conservative Republicans.
Men and women are victims of domestic violence, but women are most often the victims. Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has urged her colleagues to get on the right side of this measure or risk losing women’s votes in the fall elections. Most of her colleagues seem unmoved.
Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley said he objects to provisions that would broaden protection to same-sex couples and to illegal immigrants who are victims of domestic violence. Other Republicans say that expansion would increase bureaucracy and dilute the focus that should remain on helping domestic-violence victims (presumably unless they’re same-sex partners or undocumented). In fact most of the bill’s proposed changes are modest tweaks of programs and policies already in place.
The law already covers some illegal immigrants who are cooperating with law enforcement, and it includes a path to green cards for victims who were potentially qualified anyway through marriage to batterers who are U.S. citizens. The renewal would just allow more qualified victims to pursue that path.
Another update would make it clear the law applies equally to men and women who are battered and does not discriminate based on sexual orientation. We can’t wait to hear the arguments for not helping men battered by women or victims beaten by same-sex partners.
As to claims the bill would expand bureaucracy, this renewal measure does not increase costs. In fact, it calls for a reduction of 17 percent in overall funding by consolidating some grant programs. The measure would create only one new program for Native Americans that extends law-enforcement powers held by tribal leaders on Indian land so they can prosecute non-Indian batterers.
While it’s tempting to frame this as a women’s issue, it’s really about human decency. As we sadly have seen in Silicon Valley over the past year, domestic violence crosses lines of income and ethnicity. It can involve male-female or same-sex couples. It is a terrible and growing social problem. Democrats and Republicans once agreed on this. They must renew the domestic violence law.
This is one of an occasional post from Margaret Epperheimer, a seven-year member of Next Door’s Board of Directors.
She believed she was worthless. She didn’t think she was capable of doing much more than getting her three kids fed, dressed and off to school each day. She was a failure at the simplest domestic tasks, like keeping the house spotless, the kids quiet and getting a dinner on the table that would please her abusive spouse. Some days were better than others. But the bad days and violence seemed to be occurring more frequently.
And so the story goes. The physical scars of domestic violence are perhaps the easiest to mend. After careful safety planning and a successful escape, the real work to put lives back together begins. Imagine if you will: When you’re at your lowest in terms of self-esteem, resiliency and resources, you’ve got to find housing, food, clothing, transportation, employment, financial aid, legal help, child care, and on and on. You may never have had a bank account, a driver’s license or a job interview. You may have escaped with your life but nothing else. It’s no wonder so many victims return to their batterers and the cycle of violence, sometimes with tragic consequences.
That’s why agencies such as Next Door put so much emphasis on self-sufficiency. According to Sarah Fuller, Manager of Next Door’s Self-Sufficiency Programs, “The abuse causes not just a lack of self- esteem, but many woman feel they have lost the essence of who they once were. Their identity and image that once shown back at them in the mirror is lost because of the violence. Self-sufficiency coaches clients to rediscover their strengths, their talents and their dreams.”
In 2011, a grant from the Avon Foundation allowed Next Door to launch an ambitious pilot program of workshops to supplement its ongoing self-sufficiency efforts. Workshops tackle self-esteem and empowerment, goal-setting, financial awareness, education and job search. Because results from the pilot were so impressive, the Avon Foundation granted Next Door a second-year extension.
Next month, Fuller will speak at an Avon Foundation conference in New Orleans, describing the pilot results: 10 women received full- or part-time employment; 35 women created resumes and cover letters or business cards; 3 women obtained bank accounts; 2 women got drivers’ licenses; 2 women got education scholarships; 6 women found housing; 3 women started junior college or a university; 1 woman earned her CPA license; 1 woman created a business plan. And, that’s just the beginning.
Last year, local donors contributed more than $3,200 and law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati donated laptops to establish a computer lab so self-sufficiency clients will have access to tools they need to look for a job, housing and other resources to create a new life. Still, more help is needed. On Fuller’s wish list are donors who will provide funds so Next Door can provide self-sufficiency workshops in Spanish. Anyone out there want to step up to that challenge? You’d be amazed at what little it takes to change a life. Call Sarah Fuller (408-501-7567) if you want to hear more about the courage, tenacity and perseverance of those who have been battered and how you can help.
Next Door has been awarded a $5,000.00 grant from eBay Foundation’s employee-volunteer led GIVE Team. Funds will be used to ensure that its Shelter doors remain open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. The grant was made possible in part through eBay Foundation’s GIVE Team program, which empowers employees to support their communities through volunteerism and employee-sponsored grants. In 2010 alone, GIVE Teams worldwide selected 140 nonprofits to receive eBay Foundation grants, totaling more than $600,000.
“eBay Foundation was established to reach beyond the boundaries of eBay’s virtual village to develop strong communities that bring people together,” said Lauren Moore, Executive Director of eBay Foundation. “Through our GIVE Teams, eBay Foundation has had the great fortune of feeding families in the San Francisco Bay Area, helping foster children in India, seniors in Germany, mentoring at-risk youth in Omaha, and homeless in Austin—to name only a few. We couldn’t be happier to add to our list of beneficiaries by supporting Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence.
ABOUT EBAY FOUNDATION
eBay Foundation was established by eBay, Inc. in 1998 and, reflecting eBay innovation, was the first corporate foundation to be endowed with pre-IPO stock. Since inception, the Foundation has contributed more than $21 million to nonprofit organizations worldwide. The Foundation engages eBay Inc. employees and supports their pursuit of charitable giving and volunteerism through its GIVE Team program. In addition, using a unique combination of foundation funding, employee volunteerism, and other resources, eBay Foundation has created The Opportunity Project to extend the company’s commitment to global citizenship. By scaling social innovations that create economic opportunity, The Opportunity Project gives people in need the chance to participate in the global economy, provide for their families, and build stronger communities. For more information: www.theopportunityproject.org.
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Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence