In my short time working at the Northwest Arkansas Women’s Shelter so far, I have had the honor of listening to survivors of domestic violence share their stories. For example, the survivor who remembers not being able to enjoy eating out with her friend at her favorite Thai restaurant because her abuser would call and text constantly asking where she was … sometimes even showing up unannounced to find her. Or, the survivor who was married to a doctor and didn’t feel like anyone would believe her if she reported the domestic and sexual abuse he inflicted. Also, the survivor who fled her home in Chicago and went to Oklahoma to escape her abuser and who told me that her eyes welled up with tears when a donor gave the shelter Snickers bar. That gesture made her feel loved. These stories are humbling, but they also reminded me of the importance to get involved in helping people escape abuse and restart their lives. However, people are sometimes afraid to give because they are afraid what they have to offer isn’t enough.
I think we all have this idea in our heads that only big gifts, lots of money, or all of our time make a true impact on underserved communities. So, we either get overwhelmed by all there is to do, by the statistics that don’t decrease, by the fact that we aren’t in a place to give “big” items or amounts to our favorite organizations, so we do nothing out of fear. Or, we pour all our extra time, energy, and savings into our passion projects and get burnt out quickly, then can’t give anything for an extended period of time because we haven’t taken care of our own needs. Neither is a good option. A wise woman once told me to find what was at the intersection of what broke my heart and what makes you feel whole and that is what you need to get involved in. That way, I wouldn’t be incredibly overwhelmed and feel like I had to single handedly save the world. But, she also reminded me to make sure it wasn’t at the expense of my own well-being.
What I have learned in my time here so far—among many things—is whatever you can give helps. If our mission is truly at the intersection of heartbreak and holiness for you, there is no such thing as a small contribution. Whatever you can give, be it Snickers bars or thousands of dollars, can impact a survivor’s life. No one wants to feel as if they are only known for one part of their identity, no one wants to feel like they are just a victim. When you give your time, money, energy, kind words through cards, coats, clothes, pumpkin carving kits, or candy bars, you are letting men, women, and children who you have never met and may never meet know that they are seen by our community; they are surrounded in support as they escape abuse, and they are so much more than a victim; they are a person who deserves to have basic needs met.
That’s why we do what we do, and we invite you to join us as we make all of our clients feel seen and cared for by the community.