Jordan’s Story

Jordan was 9 when he and his 5-year-old sister, Susie, started coming to an outreach group at the shelter.  In the first several child support groups Jordan attended, he glorified his dad’s aggressive and abusive behaviors. He had learned that he wanted to be mean and tough like dad, despite seeing the violence in his home. About mid-year, Jordan began viewing his world and his parent’s relationship in a different way.

During one group session with Rachael, our Child Advocate, Jordan told her he was tired of being known as the bully at school. He was tired of always getting into trouble in school. He knew he had issues with his anger, and he wanted to be different.

Jordan’s mom and Rachael talked about options for individual therapy, and Rachael began talking with Jordan over the summer. They talked about domestic violence, the cycle of violence, anger, anger control, assertiveness, and self-esteem. Once school began, Jordan started seeing an outreach counselor. Toward the end of the year, after continuing in individual counseling and continuing to attend our child domestic violence support group, Jordan decided, at the age of 10, he no longer wanted to be a bully. He chose to have friends instead of no friends.

By the end of the year, Jordan told everyone in group that he has not been sent to the principal’s office once. And he has friends in school. He’s not seen as the class bully anymore!

Community supporters and sponsors like you helped to raise over $100,000 at the 7th Fresh StART Art Auction presented by Mars, Inc. This equates to 1,000 nights of safety for our neighbors in NWA. During the event, Wendy, a courageous survivor who shared how NWAWS provided the space for her and her two children to create a new story of hope and healing.

A special thank you to our Featured Artist, Stacy Bates, as well as our Honorary Co-Chairs, Deanah Baker and Megan Crozier, for all of their support leading up to and at the event.

Harvey and Andrea Millar

Harvey and Andrea Millar

Stacy Bates

Stacy Bates

Megan Crozier and Deanah Baker

Megan Crozier and Deanah Baker

Missed the event? You can check out more pictures here!

Deanah Baker, SVP-GMM, Apparel at Walmart, has been volunteering for the NWA Women’s Shelter as an active member of the Board of Directors since early 2016. She currently serves on the Fresh StART committee and, along with Megan Crozier, she will be one of the Honorary Co-Chairs of this year’s Fresh StART event being held on October 14. Deanah explains why this cause is important to her,

My husband was in education for 25+ years and his passion was in getting to know his students and their personal stories.  He has so many examples of brave young people who struggled in their home life due to various circumstances, including abuse in the home.  While Northwest Arkansas is an amazing community with so much to offer, the statistic remains that 1 in 5 people are victims of domestic violence.  My goal is to see all of our NWA neighbors thriving; not living their lives in fear or feeling helpless and alone in changing their situation.  Our strong NWA community can come alongside the Northwest Arkansas Womens Shelter to give victims of domestic violence safety, hope and support for a new beginning.

Deanah has used her skills and her position on the board over the past year to help move the NWA Women’s Shelter out of its financial crisis and begin moving toward sustainability. As a part of these efforts, Deanah hosted a private fundraising party this spring and has raised more than $22,000 in 2017 for programs and services provided through NWAWS.

You can meet Deanah at Fresh StART or look for other ways to get connected with NWAWS by visiting our volunteer page.

 

Handworks

When our new friends at Handworks learned that our shelter was at full capacity and running out of toilet paper, they decided to kick off their NWAWS partnership with a toilet paper drive. Donors who dropped of toilet paper to the Handworks Bentonville store received a special gift – a free candle. NWAWS received three car loads of toilet paper thanks to this donation drive! Handworks will continue to partner with NWAWS and host donation drives with a special incentive for donors, so stay tuned for more from this gift store that gives back.

(P.S. If you drop off a donation of bath towels, paper towels or disinfectant spray to Handworks in Bentonville you can receive a free summer votive.)

Church Friends

We are grateful to receive support from many church partners and there are two who went above and beyond and involved kids last month: First United Methodist Church-Downtown Bentonville and NW Kids (NW Assembly).

First United Methodist Church-Downtown Bentonville featured the Northwest Arkansas Women’s Shelter as one of their partners for the week of Mighty Missions Vacation Bible School in mid-July. Amber Lacewell, our Director of Community Outreach & Education, was a visiting “Hero” and shared the NWAWS mission with the children as well as how they can support other kids who might have to stay in our shelter. Throughout the week, the FUMC kids collected backpacks and school supplies and assembled them for the kids in shelter. By the end of the week, they filled up a car with all of the school supplies! To learn more about this activity, check out the FUMC|Downtown Bentonville blog.

The Kids at NW Assembly focused on making a difference all summer long and NWAWS had the privilege of being one of the last partners. We spoke at Wednesday Night Live, ate nwaws-make-a-difference-nw-kidspizza, and had the kids assemble backpacks with school supplies they had collected all summer. When the night was over, they sent us back to shelter with 50 backpacks ready for our kids! The NW Kids were so enthralled when we shared about the shelter and showed them pictures of the rooms–they especially loved that we have a teen room  designed just for kids like them and a computer lab for everyone! The kids were so inquisitive, we probably could have stayed all night answering their questions.

Brighton Hand Bag Trade-In

We received nearly 100 well-loved and gently used handbags from Brighton Collectible’s Handbag Trade-In event. Some of the bags went to our Thrift Store to be purchased by customers or clients shopping on our voucher system. Seventeen brand-name bags in excellent condition will be auctioned off online for an online Labor Day Sale. Stay tuned for more information and to snag a gently used bag at a fantastic price. Thanks to all who donated their bags at this event!

 

It is so fun and encouraging watching others in the community-especially kids-rally behind the Northwest Arkansas Women’s Shelter. We appreciate everyone’s support and look forward to on-going partnerships!

 

We would love to come speak to your group, please reach out to Amber Lacewell: alacewell@nwaws.org.

Have an idea for a 3rd Party initiative? Please connect with us or visit our Support Our Shelter page.

June saw several local individuals and businesses raising support for NWAWS in very unique ways. Read below to hear their stories and how they made an impact.

Mom But So Much More: The Fashion Show

Our friends at Gap organized and hosted an amazingly fun night celebrating fashion and motherhood and supporting moms who need extra support by raising funds for NWAWS. More than 63 volunteers spent more than 300 total hours planning, organizing, and working the event to make the inaugural year of Mom But So Much More: The Fashion Show a success.

We are forever grateful to the litany of sponsors who provided goodies and silent auction items, the beautiful models who showed their confidence on the runway and the volunteers who brought it all together. Most of all thank you to Chantel Shuler from Gap Kids, who has gone from Thrift Store volunteer to 3rd Party event creator and now is our most recent board member. Your vision and tenacity truly made the event a success. The Fashion Show raised almost $6500 with an additional $3000 expected to come in from matching grants.

Want to learn more about the Fashion Show? Check out their website at www.mombutsomuchmore.com and make plans to attend next year!

Bikes, Brews, and No Abuse

Longtime friends of NWAWS, Regina and Burke Gower along with their friends—the Culhanes and the Winchesters—united their love of cycling with their love of local breweries in June to raise funds for our programs. Despite the rain, Bikes, Brews and No Abuse was able to raise nearly $1300. Thank you friends for organizing the event and thank you also to the local breweries and partners who participated or donated to the event: Bentonville Brewing Company, New Province Brewing, Bike Rack Brewing, Black Apple Crossing, Core Public House, Mars, General Mills, Advil, Chapstick, and Goo!

Maude Boutique 3rd Party Drive

Becca Brisiel, Kelly English and the rest of the Maude Squad put their heads and hearts together to support our shelter with a donation drive that ran throughout the month of June. Customers who brought in gently used clothing items to a Maude store were treated to a special discount. At the end of June, NWAWS hauled off at least 6 car loads of donated clothing—much more than we originally anticipated!

Visit the Maude blog to read their interview with our Volunteer Coordinator. Here’s a sneak peek.

“There are always volunteer opportunities (www.nwaws.org/volunteer-application) but what I’d love to see is young women in our community advocating and being ambassadors for our mission. We need their passion! If anyone is interested in being an ambassador for our shelter, please reach out to me at akinder@nwaws.org and we can talk about how your ideas, skills and passion can meet our needs. There’s so much room for growth and creativity.”

 

So far in 2017, friends of NWAWS have raised more than $11,500 through 3rd Party Fundraisers. Have an idea for a 3rd Party Fundraiser? Contact Merritt Royal at mroyal@nwaws.org or visit our Support Our Shelter page for more information.

For the second year in a row, Regina and Burke Gower combined their fitness and cycling interests through organizing a ride to benefit the Northwest Arkansas Women’s Shelter (NWAWS): Bikes, Brews and No Abuse. This year, the ride was around Lake Atalanta in Rogers, and involved 30 riders. Also partnering that day were three breweries and one cidery, all of which committed a percentage of their sales to benefit NWAWS: Bike Rack Brewing Co, Core, New Province, and Black Apple Crossing.

Domestic abuse is a personal issue for Regina.

“After my sister Natalie was killed by her husband, I knew I wanted to do whatever I could to help other victims of domestic abuse. Domestic abuse and violence isn’t just about being physically hit. It includes emotional abuse and financial abuse, too. My sister was never hit, but we saw abuse in other forms.

I first became involved with a domestic violence shelter in Muskogee where I was living at the time my sister died. When I moved to NWA, I reached out to the Northwest Arkansas Women’s Shelter to see how I could help. What is most important to me is to make sure other families don’t go through the pain and grief my family went through. If I can help one victim of abuse or that family member by giving them the resources they need, or the courage, then all my work to raise awareness is worth it.”

Regina and Burke at Champions In Heels 2016

Regina and Burke have been volunteers with NWAWS since 2011. Regina also serves on planning committees for Champions on Wheels, a family-focused outdoor bicycling event, and Silent Witness, an awareness event honoring the memories of Arkansas homicide victims who lost their lives due to domestic violence.

Bikes, Brews, and No Abuse raised almost $1300. This equates to providing 1 victim of violence 2 weeks of safety from her abuser.

Thank you, Regina and Burke, for being the voice for those who have lost theirs due to domestic abuse!

If you want to combine your talents and interests with a fundraiser for NWAWS, you can contact Merritt Royal Weeks, mroyal@nwaws.og, or read more here.

Want to be a champion like Regina and Burke? Apply to volunteer today!

 

Donor Highlight: Michelle Dearing, Co-Founder, Midtown Associates at NWA Realty Group

Michelle’s Story:

I unexpectedly found myself in a position of being a single mother with two young children (ages 1 and 7, at the time). I had an education to help me provide for my family. I had friends and family who helped encourage and support me as I faced new challenges as a single, working mom. It was still hard for me, as it is for a lot of single, working mothers. I had to work hard and be strong to provide the best home for my children.

My heart goes out to those mothers who are living in abusive and unsafe homes and who are facing the decision to leave or to stay. Many may not have the resources or the education I had to fall back on to provide for their families. Their decisions to leave to find safety for themselves and their children require an extraordinary amount of strength and courage.

I want these mothers to know that mothers like me admire their courage. For three years now, I have supported the Northwest Arkansas Women’s Shelter each month because I want to help give mothers who make that decision to leave their abusers the best opportunity to survive and thrive. For almost 29 years, the Northwest Arkansas Women’s Shelter has provided emergency safe shelter for mothers who make the best, but very difficult, decision to leave abusive and violent homes, not knowing what their future holds. Their stay at the NWA Women’s Shelter may literally save their lives and their children’s lives, while also giving a new beginning to a life that restores hope and ends the cycle of abuse and violence.

Michelle Dearing served on the Board of Directors for the Northwest Arkansas Women’s Shelter from 2014 – 2015. Michelle was also the Treasurer during her time on the Board.

Thank you, Michelle, for your tireless efforts advocating for mothers in Northwest Arkansas who make the decision to live without the fear of violence in their lives!

You can join Michelle in supporting the mothers and children seeking refuge at NWAWS by making a one-time donation or signing up as a sustaining donor to make a recurring gift. Click below or call for more details.
Donate online or call Terri Post: (479) 246-0353 ext. 108

Pictured from left: Shelli Cathcart, Gladys Aguiar, Lorna Miller (Living Word), Burke Gower, Regina Gower, Keisha Wyckoff, Dianna Zerr

Congratulations to our 2016 Outstanding Volunteers!

Mother Teresa is attributed as saying, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”

In the same way, our volunteers create many ripples of change by supporting our staff and our clients in the overall effort to change the effects of violence on the lives of children, women, and men in our area. While we wish we could give an award to all of our volunteers (can we just say that you are each outstanding!), each year staff nominates certain volunteers who have gone above and beyond in their service for the last 12 months. The competition was tough, but the recipients of the 2016 Outstanding Volunteer Awards go to:

Outstanding Shelter Volunteer – Keisha Wyckoff

Outstanding Thrift Store Volunteer – Dianna Zerr

Outstanding Committee Member – Regina Gower

Outstanding Board Member – Shelli Cathcart

Outstanding Community Supporter – Living Word Lutheran Church

Most Versatile Volunteer – Gladys Aguiar

Most Faithful Volunteer – Jennifer Stoner

 

Thank you all for your contributions. We truly could not do it without you!

 

Interested in joining this amazing volunteer team? Tell us you are interested in getting involved by clicking here.

Pictures of the event can be viewed on Flickr.

On May 19, 2016 we announced that if we did not raise $150,000 in the following six weeks, we would close our doors. Graciously, our community stepped up and donated the funds necessary to keep our doors open. Individuals, companies, and organizations made meeting our goal possible.

However, during this campaign (the first of two efforts to raise a total of $300,000 by October 1), many individuals asked us, “Why aren’t you receiving support from ____?” You fill in the blank.

The easy answer is we simply do not meet the current eligibility requirements for a variety of foundations or organizations, or the fund from which we do receive monies has shrunk considerably.

Simply put, organizations, foundations, and even individual donors can choose to change the focus of their giving at any time.  Over the past several years, organizations and foundations that have traditionally been major sources of revenue for NWAWS have either changed their focus or have reduced the resources they are able to distribute to us.  Consequently, NWAWS, like so many other nonprofit organizations affected by such a change, need to identify other sources of revenue. Ultimately, statistics and trends show that our future source of funds must be individual donors.

Let’s consider three examples that will illustrate this point.  NWAWS has been a recipient of funds from United Way for years. At its peak, we received $71,000. This year we will receive close to $22,000. Have our programs changed? No. Has the focus of United Way changed? Yes. Is there anything unique in United Way in changing its focus? Not really. Overtime United Way has shifted to respond to different community needs, patterns of giving and their ability to address societal needs. In doing so, the pool of funds available for ‘member’ agencies has varied greatly.

Since 1996 United Ways around the country have been adopting the community impact model. The adoption process has been slow, and in my opinion erratic, but in its own way it has been steady.  Slowly, more and more local United Ways have switched to this model. In 2013 United Way of Northwest Arkansas began its own process of transition. Over the course of that transition, funds available for member agencies who do not fit that model decreased.

A second example is the state funding we receive through the Domestic Peace Fund. We have received revenue from this fund for years, and at one time we received more than $40,000 from it.  This year we will receive slightly more than $18,000. Why is this? It is because the fees that provide revenue for the fund have decreased considerably. The Fund is supported by fees associated with Marriage Licenses and Bail Bonds.  Over the last few years, Bail Bond fees have decreased significantly. The amount of funds available from this source in 2016-17 is 43.6% of what it had been in 2012-13. One of the causes is the increased practice in Arkansas of judges releasing accused offenders from jail on their own recognizance, negating the need for a bail bond. No bail bond means no fees for the state fund. It is as simple as that.

Finally, let’s look at foundations. Foundations change their focus and priorities with some regularity, and when they do many organizations that have previously accessed foundation resources are cut out of the loop. This process is never pleasant and is rarely well-publicized. Clearly, it is the right of a funder to change or shift their priorities. However, those who no longer meet the new criteria for support must decide how they will deal with the loss of revenue. For some the answer lies in a reduction in services, for others, a realignment of activities, and for others a quickly designed effort to find replacement resources.

Foundations shifting their priorities, United Way changing its focus to respond more aggressively to certain community needs, and government revenue shrinking are all ways resources disappear from nonprofits. Failure to find replacement income for the streams that disappear places a nonprofit in a difficult position. Therefore, it is important that a nonprofit diversifies its resource base as much as possible.

One of the best ways to do this is by creating a reliably large, recurring, and diversified individual donor support base. These individual donors are vested in the mission. Individually, a loss of one should not create a huge hole in an organization’s revenue stream.

The goal of the campaigns conducted by NWAWS was, and is, to create that reliable, large, recurring, and diversified individual donor support base. This is not because we are opposed to seeking funds from sources that tend to be less reliable, especially considering that those less-reliable sources can often represent a large portion of a budget if successfully obtained. Rather we want long-term sustainable revenue that helps ensure that we can provide the quality and scope of program that the community deserves and that demand implies we need.

The truth is, some money has disappeared. The organizations who everyone thinks should be the savior of the nonprofit sector are not created to do so. We have relied on them for too long, and now we are focused on securing the support of individuals who are vested in our mission and work. That is the only way we can truly become sustainable.

Several years ago, a former client wrote us a letter thanking us for being a part of her village when she needed support. Would you consider joining our village so we can support other families like her? You can be part of the solution by joining our efforts to ensure reliable recurring revenue by making a donation to NWAWS. Every gift matters to those who find refuge behind our doors and help in our services.

Read the letter by clicking below:

Thank You Letter (1)Thank You Letter (2)

(Photo Credit: www.thomasjstanley.com)

A number of years ago, Thomas Stanley published a best-selling book titled The Millionaire Next Door.  In it, he describes the characteristics of individuals who achieve great wealth while attracting little attention to themselves. One of the ideas prevalent in the book is that the savers “next door” don’t seek attention or flaunt their wealth. In other words, you would not know they were millionaires by their behavior or lifestyle (7 Key Insights from The Millionaire Next Door).

There is another kind of person who lives next door to many of us, though we often fail to recognize it:  a survivor of domestic violence.  Like the millionaire next door, the survivor does nothing to attract your attention.  Considering the numbers projected from the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men will be victims of [some form of] physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime (NISVS 2010). This translates into approximately 136,000 individuals in Northwest Arkansas who will be victims of domestic abuse/violence during their lifetimes. So the likelihood that a survivor lives next door to you is fairly good. Hopefully the secret next door is not that one of your neighbors is currently a victim.

During my time in this field, I have learned that domestic violence knows no age, race, gender, economic or social conditions, or status in life. Domestic abuse is an effort by one person to control and dominate another through psychological, physical, sexual, emotional, or financials means, just to name a few. Each individual who is victimized experiences the abuse in their own unique way and it is not a ‘hell’ they want to broadcast to the universe. It is a story often shared only with those who have helped them rebuild their lives, their esteem, and their personal value–all of which were previously taken from them by their abuser.

Since domestic violence is painful experience both for the victim and also for those in close proximity to the victim (for example his or her children), being a survivor is not something most individuals freely discuss. Each victim and each child who lives in a house where domestic violence is prevalent suffers from wounds and scars that are invisible to those who are unaware.

Therefore, in your midst may be many people (both adults and children) who through courage, perseverance, and pure tenacity have righted their own ship and moved forward to live a life free of violence and abuse. It is a part of our responsibility as a shelter to be a team that helps all survivors change the course of their lives and enjoy a future with healthy relationships.

Our goal at the Northwest Arkansas Women’s Shelter is to help focus that courage, perseverance, and tenacity in a manner that makes the journey to a violence free life less cumbersome, fully supported, and productive. The requirement is not to reside in the shelter in order to receive services. It simply requires an individual to want to make that journey and to be willing to work towards it. And to the victims and survivors next door: we will not disclose your challenges. We will help you as you move along in your journey. We will support you and your child(ren) in a manner appropriate to your needs and consistent with our mission. That is our promise to you.

When an issue and experience is so personal that it cannot be talked about publicly, clearly it is easy to hide the information from those who are not privy to the intimate secrets of one’s past. There probably are not any outward signs of the abuse that would identify someone as a survivor of abuse. Survivors may have moved on, but the scars of the experience remain with them forever.

Just like with the millionaire next door, we should treat all people with dignity and respect because we do not know where they are or what their story has been.