Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

What Families Need to Become Rooted in Community

April 30, 2013

Watching this video brings tears of awe and gratitude every time.

 

Awe

…at human resilience and compassion.

…at the bravery of survivors of violence who can summon the strength to inspire us with their stories of perseverance and hope in the face of adversity.

…at the power of social networks to root families in community and provide the wrap-around support that can carry them from crisis to stability.

Gratitude

…for safety net organizations and their staff who dedicate their lives to rebuilding social networks frayed by trauma.

…for my own personal safety net – the family and friends I can turn to in times of both celebration and need.

This video tells Victoria’s story of reconnecting to her community after surviving domestic violence. She has been supported on that journey by the YWCA of Kitsap County, whose staff chronicles a parallel journey through organizational change. YWCA of Kitsap County is a grantee of the foundation’s Pacific Northwest initiative, which works to increase family stability and build robust education pathways and strong communities in Washington state and Portland, Oregon.

As the YWCA’s program officer for the last four years, I’ve been privileged to learn from their approach to continuously improving their services. To learn about service innovations that can increase survivor success, YWCA relies on the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence – another partner in the foundation’s work to reduce family homelessness in Washington state. 

One such innovation is the Domestic Violence Housing First service approach described in the video, which seeks to prevent homelessness by addressing one of its leading causes: domestic violence. DV Housing First eliminates the lack of housing as a reason for survivors to stay in an abusive relationship by helping them retain or access safe permanent housing quickly.

Key service components of DV Housing First include: tailored services, mobile advocacy to meet survivors wherever they are in the community, housing search support, landlord education, and temporary financial assistance. As YWCA of Kitsap County Executive Director Linda Joyce notes in the video, these services help DV survivors become rooted in their communities.

According to survivor Victoria, this approach is not only giving survivors a home; it also empowers them to rebuild who they are. Victoria says, “The YWCA makes it so that if you are a victim of domestic violence, you may walk into the building like that, but you won’t leave like that. You leave so much stronger.” 

 
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