Monday, October 5, 2015

It's About More Than Wearing Purple

Many of you recall that Domestic Violence Awareness Month has often been recognized by individuals and groups (including me) wearing purple to show that they care about this cause. I'm wearing less purple this month and instead am talking to people about taking action to raise awareness. Although because of  past awareness months, my closet resonates with purple, I'd much rather see people:
  • talking to their children during dinner about healthy and abusive relationships
  • learning about less obvious forms of power and control, so they can recognize abuse that isn't physical, or
  • bringing Wellspring's Workplace Domestic Violence Toolkit to their business so managers and supervisors are better informed about how the workplace can be impacted when abuse leaves home and comes to work. 
Today I spoke with Jesse Jackson of LookTV about being active in raising awareness this October. Jesse summed up the conversation quite memorably, "Do something". Click here to watch the video of our conversation.

So this October, wear purple if you'd like, but take action too.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Putting Awareness to Work

I often laugh that I can't keep up with all the days of recognition, "Today was National Bacon Day... Hug a Kitten Day...Organize Your Closet Day". I usually find out about these days of recognition, after the fact. You'd think it would be easier to keep up with the recognition months and their associated colors. Not always. In addition to being Breast Cancer Awareness Month (pink ribbons) and Domestic Violence Awareness Month (purple ribbons), October is also the month dedicated to awareness of: Physical Therapy , Eczema, Alzheimer's, Black History, Bullying Prevention, Cybersecurity, Disability Employment, Fire Prevention, Information Literacy, Italian American Heritage, Hispanic Heritage, Work and Family, Polish American Heritage, LGBTQ History, Raynaud's Awareness', Down Syndrome, Infant Loss and Miscarriage, Dwarfism,  Energy Awareness. Every one of these things is important and can be life-defining, but with such a  dizzying array does awareness become meaningless?

I don't think so. I know
that as someone sees an article about domestic violence, or an awareness ribbon on a car that he/she will realize they're not alone and may reach out for help. Just picking up the phone is the first step to changing their life (and perhaps even saving their life). I know that as we talk to a community group about our mission, someone will gain a better understanding of the obstacles to leaving abuse. Domestic violence is a silent and mostly invisible epidemic in our country.

Throughout the month, I'll be offering ways you can raise awareness, highlighting innovative partnerships, and discussing domestic violence in more depth to increase understanding .  Domestic violence advocates alone cannot end domestic violence. We need our whole community supporting us in that mission, not just in October, but throughout the year... but October is a good place to start. So learn about domestic violence, talk about it, notice it... awareness is the first step to ending it.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Are You Aware?

October 1st is the start of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Some may ask why we need a month to raise awareness of domestic violence. We’ve all heard of it, right? Yes… and no. Most people in Saratoga County aren’t aware that domestic violence is the #2 violent crime in our county. Most aren’t aware that domestic violence in the primary cause of family homelessness. And people are continually shocked to learn that domestic violence is a primary cause of homicide in Saratoga County (in fact 100% of homicides from 2010-2013 were due to domestic violence).
"[Wellspring’s] services made me realize that although things are rough, you do what’s best for your children and everything works out. DV counseling and shelter saved my life and my children."

Many people continue to think of domestic violence as primarily physical abuse. Often a caller to our hotline will start with, “A friend told me to call, but I’m not sure I should be calling you… I’ve never been hit.” In fact, many highly abusive relationships may have little or no physical abuse. However, living each day with psychological abuse, financial control, social isolation, threats and intimidation or sexual victimization can be far more devastating than the black eye we so often see on a poster about domestic violence. learn more about the various forms of domestic violence.

Most people are surprised to hear about the prevalence of domestic violence. During their lifetime,  1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men are affected by domestic violence. Wellspring's hotline responds to an average of 1,400 calls/year and we assist ~1,000 survivors of abuse each year with free and confidential services ranging from legal advocacy, counseling and crisis intervention, to employment assistance, financial literacy, case management, a Safe Pet program and even a supportive housing program.   Sometimes the biggest barriers to leaving abuse involve fears about being able to provide food on the table and a roof overhead for the family. Wellspring helps people overcome these barriers so they can live free from fear… but also have housing and economic stability.  

[Wellspring] supported me and helped me when I was going through a very tough moment in my life. They were there for me when I needed someone to talk, to advise me how to get help, supporting me during the court days.

The staff were also always nice and helpful with my son. They made our stay as easy as possible. They supported us with summer camp for day care when I could not afford it so I could keep working. 

When someone is living in an abusive home, it can be hard to imagine how to break free. It can be hard to believe that life can be different. Each day we see the courage and strength… and relief… as we work with survivors to create a new future.
If you or someone you know has experienced an abusive relationship, you are not alone. Call our hotline at 518.584.8188.
For more information about Wellspring's services visit www.wellspringcares.org 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Paws for Peace

This is my loveable boy Andy. He's hoping you and your pooch will join him for a walk on Saturday, September 26th in Saratoga Springs' Congress Park to raise awareness about Wellspring's Safe Pet Partnership. It's a family friendly event. Beginning at 10 am we'll have demonstrations about:

  • Walking your dog (rather than him walking you)
  • Lyme Disease
  • Holistic veterinary treatments
  • Doggie agility course
  • Search and rescue dog demonstrations
  • Blessing of the pets
... and $5 pawdicures (nail clipping).
At 11 am, pooches and humans will get a little exercise with a walk around the park (~1 mile).

Big and small... bring them all

The event is free to humans and $5 for pooches (they'll get some goodies for attending.) The proceeds benefit Wellspring's services to help all victims of domestic violence... including our furry, feathered and finned family members.

If you're sad because you don't have a pooch to accompany you, the Saratoga County Animal Shelter will be there with some pups  looking for their forever homes.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

No Matter Your Major, This Lesson is Fundmental

Summer is over and the kids have headed back to school. For some that means the first ride on the school bus (and a day of hopeful anxiety for Mom and Dad until dinnertime when they hear all about new friends, teachers and the dreaded homework assignments.) Others parents may have may have dropped otheir teenager off to a campus in another state, living away  from home for the first time (and Mom and Dad will have an even longer period of hopeful anxiety until their son or daughter returns home at Thanksgiving a for a long overdue hug.)

Governor Cuomo's Enough is Enough campaign is working to reduce the frequency of one of college's common, but rarely discussed concerns during the first weeks on campus- sexual assault.  All schools in NYS are educating students about affirmative consent (the standard is no longer whether he/she said no... it's whether he or she said yes). Today's front page Saratogian article, The Talk is Now Part of the Curriculum describes the unique and  memorable ways colleges across the country are finding  to deliver this message (Would you like a cup of tea?

Locally Wellspring and Skidmore College are actively collaborating to increase awareness, to reduce sexual victimization, and to provide access to students who may require crisis or support services. We have an advocate on campus 3 days a week and our prevention educator will be conducting outreach and awareness initiatives weekly in various venues throughout the campus. 

Related Posts:

Friday, September 4, 2015

More Moxie

After my last blog post, I've had several questions about the Moxie Swap scheduled for April 16, 2016 and the Pay it Forward events that are happening now. So here's a video from Brandon Dewyea , who is the genius behind the Moxie Swap explaining it more.

In a nutshell, there are regular events where local business owners are inviting women to come for a ladies night out, to learn about the Moxie Swap and Wellspring, and to donate items for next April's event. I was at a wonderful event at Saratoga Tea and Honey last night- massages, essential oils, jewelry... and some great door prizes including yoga classes and an individual photo shoot with Deborah Neary. If  you're wondering about upcoming events visit the Moxie Swap event page

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Clean Out Your Closet then Enjoy SomeTea and Honey

And if you've got some items in your closet that don't bring you joy anymore, bring them with you and donate them to a Moxie Swap (What's a Moxie Swap? Keep reading).

This Thursday, September 3rd, join  Wellspring for an empowering evening event at Saratoga Tea and Honey. We've got jewelry, massages, essential oils and, of course, delicious tea and honey. We'll also have an exhibit by Saratoga artist Deborah Neary whose specialty is photographing women in nature and capturing the essence of their strength, beauty and connection to the earth. Sound  interesting? Watch this interview with  Look TV's Jessie Jackson to learn more about the Woman in Nature exhibit, the event at Saratoga Tea and Honey, and laearn about Moxie Swap.

Please note the event at Saratoga Tea and Honey is a free to attend. Some of the services have a small fee.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

A Play to Remind Us Why We Have Women's Equality Day

Stopping by the League of Women Voters' table at the farmers' market last Saturday, I ran across some friends.  We started talking about how important it is to get the word out to vote. I've spoken with elder women I know who told me how important voting has always been to them. We tend to forget how hard our predecessors fought for the right to vote.


Well the League has a great way to help us remember... The Stone that Started the Ripple is a humorous yet historical representation of the return of the women who initiated the crusade for women's right to vote. Using their actual words from the 1800's, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth, and Lucretia Mott offer commentary on the status of women's issues today. Written by local author, Pat Nugent.
All proceeds benefit the League of Women Voters of Saratoga County. One performance is being offered, on Wednesday, August 26th at 7 PM in Skidmore College’s Filene Hall.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

David Cassidy...Deserving of Praise?

I serve on quite a few community coalitions that address issues affecting our youth and how to guide children, teens and young adults to make healthy decisions.  If you’ve been alive so long that  your memory has stored the Kodachrome images of childhood in frames nostalgically gilded with Huck Finn-like images of childhood innocence and  freedom from care… well I hate to burst your bubble, but your memory is playing tricks on you (and you probably need to go back and reread Mark Twain). The years of our youth are full of challenges, disappointments, tragedies, fears and betrayals; it’s those struggles that help us to become resilient, compassionate adults.

Often when adults question “How can we help kids to make better decisions?”, I think one simple response is to be aware of the messages we send them through our own actions. Kids learn much more by watching what we do than by listening to what we say. When my sons were teens they would roll their eyes as I imparted well-intentioned pearls of wisdom (teenage translation –Mom’s constantly nagging me about stuff I haven’t even done). Like most parents I thought my words fell on deaf ears. But my work on the Shenendehowa Community Coalition suggests otherwise. Time and time again students have told us (in interviews and anonymous surveys) that their parents are the top influence as they make decisions about using drugs or alcohol.

So last week I found one article about David Cassidy’s volunteerism at CAPTAIN’s summer lunch program really troubling. Glenn Griffith’scoverage of Cassidy’s mandatory community service gushed unabashedly about Cassidy’s generosity, humility and caring…. as well as his fame.  Cassidy has repeatedly driven drunk (a DUI in Florida followed by 2 DWIs within a six month period, one in California and one in NYS).  The repeat convictions for driving intoxicated raise questions about whether he takes any of this seriously (he reportedly even failed to attend a court date for the NYS arrest, instead choosing to spend the day at the track.)  I wish the man no ill and hope that the arrests have led him to evaluate his choices to get behind the wheel after drinking, but wonder what message we are sending to our youth with this public adoration of Cassidy’s community spirit, while downplaying the severity of the offense that prompted the community service. These are the same kids we’ll soon be talking to about the dangers of drunk driving. If community service and laudatory news articles are the only consequences they see, will they take us seriously when we explain the decision to drive drunk can be a life altering mistake?

I’d welcome an article about the really great work CAPTAIN does for kids every day… about their dedicated staff and passionate volunteers. Their summer lunch program served 1,700 lunches per week this summer at 12 sites throughout Saratoga County. Yes, you read that right-- 1,700 lunches each week! Any kid under 18 who needed a lunch got one, just for asking. If you think poverty, homelessness and hunger don't exist in Saratoga County, those numbers should get you thinking. These kids sit beside yours in schools all over the county. They play on the playground together. They study for the same math tests. And their families struggle to provide for the most basic needs. The challenges these families strive to overcome and the agencies like CAPTAIN who are working every day to help them---  that's what I find inspirational.

But Griffith’s front page news article lauding a ‘celebrity’ for mandated community service, sugarcoats the reality that drunk drivers cause accidents with tragic consequences. It also ignores the reality that a multiple drunk driving offender was sentenced to a $900 fine, 6 months' license suspension and community service. Let’s think about the messages we’re sending our community and our kids.   They are watching.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Parents' Homework- Do You Know How to Keep Your Kids Safe Online?

It's never been easy keeping up with kids...and it's even harder keeping ahead of what they are learning.   When I was a kid,  the 'New Math' had parents mystified. My kids were learning to read with the 'Whole Language' method... which meant I wasn't supposed to correct them if they spelled cat,  "ket" , or I might extinguish their love of reading. Today's parents feel like they're always one step behind their kids with computers.  Just when they got Facebook figured out it's passé.

While I don't think new math or misspellings ever had dire consequences, predators do lurk on social media, so it's important that parents have the knowledge to monitor their kids' computer activities. The Saratoga Center for the Family is hosting a workshop, How predators use today's social media to lure teens into risky behavior. John Kelly, community educator for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and former Saratoga Springs police officer, will offer parents tips for keeping their children safe on line.