Thursday, August 31, 2017

Their Purses Support Youth Prevention Programs

Elise Britt's commitment to personal excellence doesn't end on the field hockey field or on the weight room, "No one should be in a relationship that doesn't make them a stronger person and a better person." You can view her whole video  here.

Andy Gilpin of CAPTAIN Youth and Family Services says ,"We see the issue of domestic violence on a daily basis, in our shelter, our street outreach and with the families we assist." Click here to listen to why he believes this work is important.

There are a number of programs that Wellspring offers that specifically target the youth in our community.  Some of these, such as Coaching Boys Into Men, we will be talking about in the coming weeks.  Our prevention programs “A Jury’s Dilemma” and “In Her Shoes” can also be put on for young-adult audiences.  We also have another prevention program created specifically for teens “In Their Shoes”.  Similar to “In Her Shoes”: this program puts students in the roles of teenagers dealing with a variety of common issues including sexting, pregnancy, homophobia and stalking.  Our goal is to end relationship and sexual abuse; by educating youth on these difficult topics, we can prepare them to know what to do when issues of domestic violence or sexual assault come up in their lives.  If you are interested in scheduling one of these programs, email prevention@wellspringcares.org or call our office at 518-583-0280 .

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Their Purses Are For All The Things You Need

Did you know domestic violence is the primary cause of family homelessness in Saratoga County? As the executive director of Shelters if Saratoga, Mike Finocchi knows how one bad break in life, e.g. losing a job or having a serious health issue, can launch a downward spiral. He also knows that with support people can overcome that obstacle and emerge stronger, "Supporting Wellspring assists individuals with getting on a better path in life." Click here to listen to what he has to say about Wellspring. 

Likewise JoAnne Hume encounters many individuals and families that have experienced domestic violence in her work helping people toward self sufficiency "[I'm pleased] to be able to collaborate with [Wellspring]... to eradicate relationship and sexual abuse."
Click here to hear her talk about our collaboration efforts.

Our goal at Wellspring is not just to react to incidents of Domestic Violence or Sexual Assault and help the victim, but also to raise awareness to prevent these incidents from happening in the first place. Two of the programs we use to accomplish this are “A Jury’s Dilemma” and “In Her Shoes”.  In “A Jury’s Dilemma” participants are treated to a mock trial exploring a case of teenage sexual assault.  During the course of the trial, the participants hear from the defendant, the complainant, their attorneys and other witnesses. They then have guided discussion to talk about the case and their opinions, learning about the realities of a Sexual Assault trial in the process.  During “In Her Shoes”  participants take on the roles of clients working with Wellspring, navigating the legal system, social welfare and finding out how difficult leaving a domestic violence relationship can be,  If you are interested in having any of these programs put on at your school, church our community group, contact prevention@wellspringcares.org

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

They Know the Power of the Purse

Sherry Finkel Murphy is a financial advisor and she eloquently explains financial abuse, "Sometimes financially controlling behaviors are a sign of domestic abuse... and there's no room for that here."  Click Here to hear more from her.

Kathleen Fyfe understands the importance of financial literacy, "because no one should feel trapped when trying to get out of an abusive relationship."  Click Here to listen to her thoughts on Domestic Abuse.

While I’ve already talked in previous posts about some of the major services we offer at Wellspring, there are a number of smaller programs that rarely get the spotlight.  Two of these programs are our summer camp and school supply assistance programs.  These programs allow the children of women escaping domestic violence to continue going about their lives as well as taking stress off these mothers.  Additionally, these programs give the mother time where her children are occupied, giving her time to focus on things that may be difficult to do while juggling childcare, like job searching.  School is just around the corner, so if you have any spare folders, binders or other supplies lying around, consider bringing them to our office at 480 Broadway LL20 and donating them!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Their Purple Purses Support the Changes We Need to Make

John Silvestri notes that, ""There are people who say they've never met a victim."  He has, through his legal practice, as a community leader, and in his personal life and , "The impact of domestic violence on their lives and their children's is tremendous." Click here to learn more about what he's learned about relationship and sexual abuse through these interactions.

Mayor Joanne Yepsen recognizes the importance of agencies like Wellspring as, "It's important for each individual to have the resources to end abuse." That's why she collaborates with other leaders in Saratoga, and Wellspring and other community organizations to provide solutions to issues such as affordable housing, improved access to pubic transportation and economic stability. Click here to learn more.

After decades working as a police officer, Sergeant Ray Cordani, understands domestic violence all too well. He's seen the impact on children an is saddened as 25 years later he's responding to domestic incidents where the adult perpetrator he recognizes was once a child in a home at which he regularly responded to domestic violence calls. But he's also hopeful as in that time he's seen improvements in training for police officers, enforcement of orders of protection, use of advocates like those at Wellspring, "This gives me hope that one day this scourge of domestic violence will go away." Click here for more about how our responses to domestic violence have improved over the decades.

Did you know Wellspring provides trainings to businesses,  youth groups and community  groups at no cost? Do you know how  to recognize the early indicators of an unhealthy relationship? Do you feel comfortable talking to a friend who may be experiencing abuse? Are you familiar with the obstacles that often prevent a victim form leaving an abusive relationship... and the resources available to help them overcome these obstacles. Wellspring can answer these questions for you... so you're better prepared to help someone in need to access the support they need to be safe. Call us at 518.583.0280 to schedule a presentation. Together we can end relationship and sexual abuse.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Carrying Their Purple Purses for Women and Girls

 People often ask me why I chose to work in a field that must be so depressing. It's true that every day we're exposed to some of the worst actions that humans can choose to do-- harming those they profess to love. But it's not depressing work, because every day my advocates see hope in people's eyes, and see people's courage in creating a new life without violence. For me, every day I see what a caring community we have and I'm exposed to so many inspirational leaders who dedicate themselves to making our community better.

And when I think of leadership, I think of Kathleen Fyfe as (in addition to her own phenomenal contributions to the community) she has guided and inspired so many people to be more impactful leaders through Leadership Saratoga. With her typical eloquence, Kathleen sums up the importance of the Purple Purse, "Financial literacy is important because no one should feel trapped and not able to leave an abusive relationship."  Click here for more from Kathleen.

Kathleen's words echo the sentiments that underlie Soroptimist International of Saratoga County's signature service project, Project Hope and Power, an eight week financial literacy program designed to give women the skills, confidence and supports to be economically self sufficient. Soroptimist is a global volunteer organization working to improve the lives of women and girls through education and empowerment. Project Hope and Power, a 12-year  collaboration with Wellspring, began when the club members learned that many domestic violence victims remain in abusive relationships because of simple economics-- they're afraid they would be unable to afford rent, food, and health care for themselves and their children if they left.

Robin Solomon and Karen Totino are two local women who are not only Soroptimists, but also successful business owners. Robin  notes that domestic violence is, "an important issue for women and an important issue for the men who love them." Click here to hear about the many women in her life who inspire this commitment. Karen's  words embody the sisterhood of all women and Soroptimist's commitment to upholding all women, "I don't want any woman to feel alone in her struggle."Click here for more from Karen about the challenges women face here and globally.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

They Wear Their Purple Purses In Our Justice System

While every day Wellspring's advocates see survivors in our emergency domestic violence shelter, in counseling rooms, at police stations and in the courts, we've got many professional colleagues who also spend a good part of their day addressing the issue of domestic violence. Sheriff Michael Zurlo notes that domestic violence, "is a crime we see far too often here in Saratoga County." In fact, domestic violence is the #2 violent crime in our community (second only to drunk/drugged driving.) Click here for more from Sheriff Zurlo.

As a family court attorney and attorney for the child, Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh has seen many cases of domestic violence,"I've seen the impact domestic violence has-- how it destroys families." Click here for more from Assemblywoman Walsh.

While in a previous job, Nicholas Evanovich had prosecuted domestic violence crimes, I like that he embraces looking at the social change needed to end abuse from all perspectives, "It's something we all have to acknowledge and realize is happening and commit that we're all going to address it together." Click here to hear more about his vision for social change.

Friday, August 25, 2017

They're Parents Wearing A Purse

Meg Kelly may be Saratoga Springs' Deputy Mayor, but she's also a mom, "Domestic violence is something that needs to be addressed with all our teens as they're coming into adulthood." Click here to find out how being  a mom inspires her to wear a Purple Purse.

Hearing the number of girls and women victimized by relationship abuse or sexual assault... and thinking of his own daughters and their friends was the catalyst for Matt D'Abate volunteering to serve on Wellspring's board of directors for the past 6 years, "I want to make sure they live in a world free of relationship and dating violence." Click here to hear more about his vision.

Michael Prezioso sees the impact of domestic violence every day through the correlations between addiction, mental health issues and history of domestic  violence or sexual assault... especially for children, "It affects their ability to have  happiness and a fulfilled life."  But as a dad of two girls his caring about this issue doesn't stop at the office. Click here to hear more from Michael about why he's wearing a Purple Purse.

Did you know Wellspring provides prevention education programs to more than 6,000 youth each year. We also have an advocate co-located at Shenendehowa High School, Saratoga Springs High School and Skidmore College, providing  youth easy access to an advocate to discuss concerns about dating violence- their own, or concerns for friends. We have interactive exercises like In Their Shoes (an experiential learning exercise that helps youth and adults learn more about dating violence) and A Jury's Dilemma (a professionally made film that depicts a rape trial of the most common date rape scenario in our county, a party with underage drinking and a 'he said- she said' situation.) The audience are the jurors and together learn about date and acquaintance rape-- and actions we can take to deter assaults- as they debate the verdict. This is a great opportunity to open lines of communication  between parents and teens. Call us to schedule a program for your youth or parent group.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Their Purses Are Action Oriented!

Click here to learn more about how The Women in Business Committee (WIB) of the Chamber of Southern Saratoga County has assisted Wellspring's clients for more than 12 years by collecting and assembling items needed to assist them on their journey in breaking free and staying free from abusive relationships. Through 3 programs: Baskets of Hope (personal care items), New Beginnings Baskets (basic household items needed as survivors transition into a violence-free home) and Backpacks of Hope (back-to-school supplies for the kids), they provided more than 4,000 baskets to help survivors. Want to know how this started? One WIB member, Marti Luzinias, was chatting with me and asked  if Mothers' Day is sometimes a difficult day for our shelter guests (yes). She gave us 9 baskets of personal care items to give the moms in our shelter on Mothers Day to bring them cheer...and the rest is history. I've lost touch with Marti over the years (if you know her, share this post so she knows what an impact she has made!!!) So here's the formula:

1 caring person 
+ 1 conversation to learn more about the needs
x  taking action=
I've seen this happen time and time again. In fact, Gerard Amedio of Saratoga Cycling did just that. The first time we met, I didn't even ask. He offered to have us in to talk to the students in his spin class... and then committed to doing a karma cycle class in October to support Wellspring's Purple Purse Challenge. Here's what he has to say; you can just hear the excitement in his voice and how inspired his students are to help. Getting in shape in a state of the art studio with a dynamic instructor... while supporting Wellspring's mission to end relationship and sexual abuse... that's a winning combo!
And speaking of fitness instructors who can inspire you to achieve your goals, Becky Weyrauch of Rock Your Fitness gets people moving, laughing,  and looking radiant after a bootcamp fitness class  that ends before the sun is even up in the sky. Becky shared her thoughts with us about Wellspring's vision and the Purple Purse Challenge, "Let's stop domestic violence for all ages, for women, children, and, yes, men too. Let's Do It!"  Click here to hear more and get motivated! 
Feeling motivated? Want to help with the Purple Purse Challenge? Can you:
  • Organize an event to raise funds in your workplace (dress down Friday and donate to Wellspring anyone?)
  • Be a team captain and raise funds for the Challenge in your name asking your friends to support your efforts (we've got the fundraising pages all set for you and can coach you on how to do this. Think of all the times you've supported friends because you were proud of their efforts.)
  • Share with others that you care about ending domestic violence. Share our blog posts, ways you can help, and links to more information about programs and services.
  • Donate online to Wellspring's Purple Purse Challenge this October (we'll provide the link to the donations page when the campaign starts). We don't need to be wealthy philanthropists to make a difference. Every dollar counts. Remember 9 baskets donated one Mothers' Day grew to a commitment that's lasted 13 years and now exceeds 4,000.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Their Purple Purses Are At Work

Anne Curcurrito and Jenifer Martin know that, "Domestic  violence affects everyone, including businesses and your employees." Domestic abuse may begin in the home, but it often follows the employee into work. In fact according to a national study, 21% of full time employees have experienced domestic violence... and most indicated their work performance was significantly impacted. Sometimes the impact is obvious as the abuser stalks or harasses their partner at his/her place of employment. Sometimes the signs are more subtle, manifesting as absenteeism, tardiness, declining job performance, excessive time on the phone, or employee turnover. Click here to learn why the Chamber of Southern Saratoga County supports the Purple Purse Challenge.

Allison Holland and her colleagues at Saratoga National Bank, "believe financial security is key to leaving abuse, " and they're "rocking their purple purses in support." As bankers, they were impressed with Wellspring's accomplishments in last year's Purple Purse Challenge. Our donors generously contributed $51,000 to our campaign-- and that earned an additional $26,000 in bonus funding from Allstate. Not a bad rate of return on the support from our local community! Click here to learn more about why the folks at Saratoga National Bank care.

Did you know Wellspring offers services to help employers develop workplace domestic violence policies, train managers and supervisors so they can assist employees in getting the help they need so they can be safe and focus on their job...and so the workplace remains safe for everyone? Did you know you don't personally need to be a victim of domestic violence to access our free, confidential services? If you have someone in your  life who might be experiencing abuse- a son or daughter, a friend, a neighbor, or an employee, you can call us to better understand, to know what the resources are, to know what to say to help, and to discuss your own safety if that's a concern. Employers care about their employees, but also need to focus on their business and employee performance. Wellspring can provide the resources you need-- at no cost.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

These Purses Are Going to the Dogs... and Cats

Anyone who has ever talked to Marianne Barker for even a few seconds knows that she loves animals. And any animal that's ever met her, had his ears fluffed and looked in her eyes, has experienced unconditional love and the feeling of being absolutely cherished. From the moment she learned about Wellspring's Safe Pet Partnership, she has supported our work to keep pets safe from abuse. Click here to learn how, "something that had never crossed my mind before" became an important social cause that she and Impressions of Saratoga routinely support.

Today I'm moving out from behind the camera lens to make a video with two of my favorite guys, Andy and Bob, to bring attention to an often overlooked aspect of domestic violence--- abuse of family pets. Back in 1999, Leadership Saratoga helped Wellspring address a serious concern for many domestic violence victims-- the fear that if they were to leave, their abuser would harm their family pet. Often this threat had been voiced so many times that it was a powerful deterrent to them seeking their own safety. With Leadership Saratoga's assistance, our Safe Pet Partnership was created and since then, hundreds and hundreds of pets have been provided veterinary care and temporary foster homes until their human family members found violence free homes... and they could be together again. Click here to learn more about Wellspring's Safe Pet Partnership.

How can you help?
  • Let folks know about how abuse also affects our furry, feathered and finned family members.
  • If you know someone who is leaving abuse, ask if they have any concerns for their pets... and let them know Wellspring can help.
  • Volunteer to be a foster family, opening your home and heart  to a pet until its family finds a safe place for them all to live together.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Rockin' a Purse to Continually Push for Excellence

By now I'm sure you've heard that Saratoga County continues to rank as the #1 healthiest county in NYS. Not content to rest comfortably with those accolades, the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce has spearheaded the Healthy Saratoga initiative, bringing together community leaders and seeking guidance from national experts on how we can build on our achievements ... and also address areas that could use improvements. We're looking for innovative models from other communities across the country so we can continue to challenge ourselves and improve. Click here  to hear from Todd Shimkus about why he's, "rockin' a purple purse for Healthy Saratoga."

DeCrescente Distributing is a family owned business that prides itself on giving back to the community. For many years they've been a drop off location for used cell phones that are repurposed as 911 phones to assist domestic violence survivors to be safe at home, at work, and throughout their daily lives. CJ DeCrescente states, "We've heard incredible stories about how your used cell phone can  -literally- save someone's life." Click here to hear CJ's inspiring words about how collecting cell phones has made them aware of domestic violence in our community.

For the last 35 years, Mark Baker has dedicated himself to fostering the vibrancy, culture, community spirit and economic prosperity of Saratoga Springs. As the president of the Saratoga City Center, he oversaw one of the most important economic drivers in our community... one that consistently surpassed performance goals year-after-year. Like Todd and CJ, he's no stranger to pushing past current success to reach even higher. Click here to hear his thoughts on how Wellspring's work can "help make our community even better.' 

Are you inspired by these leaders who challenge us to excellence? We often think the big social issues that plague us are just too challenging for any one person to make a difference... but that's not true. Former District Attorney James Murphy III often told the story of a local domestic violence victim who locked herself in the bathroom during an assault... and hidden in the linen closet was one of those used cell phones that had been donated to be used as a  911 phone. She made that emergency call and the police came as her abuser was breaking through the door to assault her. One business took the initiative to put out the collection box... one person donated their used cell phone instead of tossing it in the trash... so that our advocates could give that phone to a victim as part of a safety plan... and that one phone may very well have a saved a life that night.

This October Wellspring has set it's own big goal... to lead Saratoga County to the #1 ranking in the nation showing that our community is committed to ending relationship and sexual abuse. The Allstate Purple Purse Challenge starts October 2 and ends October 31. Will you help us by leading a fundraising team, setting up an event in your workplace, spreading  the word on social media and donating? If one person donating a used phone can save a life, imagine the difference we can all make if we work together. Oh, need more inspiration? Allstate is donating $100,000 to the national winner to support survivor services and prevention programs in their community.  If one cell phone can save a life, think what an impact we could make with $100,000 toward making Saratoga County free of relationship and sexual abuse. Want to know how you can help? Just give at us a call at 518.583.0280.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

They're Carrying A Purple Purse For Hope!

Christianne Potts articulates a big obstacle we have to ending domestic violence, "If you haven't seen it or heard it, you may not understand or believe it... and may not know who to turn to." She's right... 'Silence hides Violence'. Click here to learn more about what we need to do to end the silence.

Click here to learn why Brian Nealon, CEO of the Wesley Community, thinks Wellspring is important to their 600 employees, "We have people who have needed Wellspring's services... they've helped them to be safe and confident."

When I heard Reverend George Stefani talking about the First Baptist Church of Saratoga's new symbol of hope, I realized we're on the right path. "In our church we have many symbols of hope... today we've added a new one." Click here to find out what symbol is bringing them hope now.

Perhaps you can be the link to hope for someone in need... just by recognizing the signs of an abusive relationship and guiding them to support. Abuse isn't just physical... and no one should wait until they're in crisis or are physically assaulted to get help. Here's some information on the various forms of abuse. Wellspring is there to support survivors and offer them options; don't wait to call until you're in crisis.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

They Carry A Purple Purse for the Kids!

Everyone who has ever been on Wellspring's board of directors can quote something that I say so often, "I want to be out of a job!" But I very quickly follow up with the words, "Because we've achieved our goal of ending relationship and sexual abuse." Working with youth to promote healthy relationships and consent is key to decreasing the risk they'll ever experience dating violence or sexual victimization.  I'm not the only one who sees the prevention education and social change work  Wellspring does with youth as important. Here are some community members whose words about the importance of focusing on youth inspire me every day.

 "We need to protect the welfare of our children." Click here to learn what Marcie Frasier's research uncovered about the correlation between exposure to domestic violence  and the risk of alcohol or drug use, obesity and bullying.

While Tara Pleat sees a community of young individuals who are impressionable,  she's hopeful because, "We have a community that's not afraid to talk about these issues." Click here to learn more about why she has passionately dedicated 15 years to Wellspring's mission.

Elaine Anton-Lutruglio  coaches girls lacrosse, for one very obvious reason, "I love the girls I work with", so much so that she's not rocking just one, but 5 purple purses. Click here for her observations on youth and dating violence.

I'm Keshi...
watch the video to see what my name stands for.
So if Marcie, Tara and Elaine inspired you, here's something you can do today. Do you know someone who has a high school or college aged son or daughter? Share this video with them, so they'll know how to help someone in need. Local Skidmore students shared what they wished they'd known before they headed off to college.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Allstate's Purple Purse Challenge

I've been seeing purple lately...purple purses.

John Lofrumento explains that more women experience domestic violence
than breast, ovarian and lung cancers combined..
Once again Wellspring is participating in Allstate's Purple Purse Challenge. What's the Purple Purse Challenge? Watch here as John Lofrumento explains Allstate's passion for assisting domestic violence survivors toward economic empowerment. 

Last year our local donors gave more than $51,000 to Wellspring's Purple Purse campaign, earning Wellspring 5th place in the nation and $26,000 in bonus funds from Allstate that we used for survivor services and prevention programs in our community.
This year we're participating in the Purple Purse Challege once again... and our goal is to show that the people in our community are #1 in the country in caring about and working toward Wellspring's vision of ending relationship and sexual abuse.

Here's what you need to know about the Purple Purse Challenge:

Friday, August 11, 2017

Talking with teens about consent

As we send our kids off to college, teens and parents have  dreams and expectations. Dreams for an education that leads to a career and stable life. Dreams for learning more about something that really interests you (instead of the basic curriculum that everyone took in high school.) Dreams of a new beginning where you can be the person you are now... without everyone else remembering the person you were 10 years ago.  Dreams of freedom from curfews and parental oversight (and on the parent side, freedom from those regular battles.) It's an exciting time with new beginnings, new opportunities, new peer groups and new freedoms.

And it can also be a risky time-- for sexual victimization. In fact, the period from freshman orientation until Thanksgiving break is called the Red Zone, as it's the period with the highest incidence of campus sexual assault. So it's important to talk with your daughters-- and your sons-- about consent before sending them off to college. So here are some talking points to help you with that discussion.... and to make it even easier we've got a quick video just for parents about why and how to talk with your teen about consent.
What is consent? Consent is “permission for something to happen or agreement to do something. When sex is consensual, it means everyone involved has agreed to what they are doing and has given their permission. Non-consensual sex, or sex without someone’s agreement or permission, is sexual assault. Some important things to know about consent:
  • Drugs and alcohol blur consent. Drugs and alcohol impact decision making. When drugs and alcohol are involved, clear consent cannot be obtained. In many states, an intoxicated person cannot legally give consent.
  • Consent needs to be clear. Consent is more than not hearing the word “no.” A partner saying nothing is not the same as a partner saying “yes.” Don’t rely on body language, past sexual interactions or any other non-verbal cues. Never assume you have consent. Always be sure you have consent.
  •  Consent can be fun. Consent does not have to be something that “ruins the mood.” In fact, clear and enthusiastic consent can actually enhance sexual interactions. Not only does it allow one to know that their partner is comfortable with the interaction, it lets both partners clearly express what they want.
  •   Consent is specific. Just because someone consents to one set of actions and activities does not mean consent has been given to any other sexual act. Similarly, if a partner has given consent in the past to sexual activity this does not apply to current or future interactions. Consent can be initially given and later withdrawn.

[1] All content regarding consent is taken directly from the National Sexual Violence resource Center and retrieved from http://www.nsvrc.org/sites/default/files/SAAM_2012_Consent.pdf on August 3, 2016.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Sending your son or daughter of to college soon?

Going off to college can be a big step. Wellspring talked with current Skidmore College students to find out what they wish they had known before arriving on campus, and how they have acted - or did not act - when they thought someone needed help.  From these interviews, Wellspring formulated a video to give teens the tools those students wish they had had. Have your teen watch our video to learn more about how they can contribute to the safety of their upcoming home away from home.
Check out our video together and find out how and why Keshi  is giving youth the tools to create social change.

Why social change is important

As a society, we should always be striving to do better; and as individuals within society, it is our moral obligation to contribute to making our community healthy and safe for everyone. These efforts include working to engage others within the community to end relationship and sexual abuse.  Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct (SGBM) on college campuses is a nationwide epidemic in the United States, and efforts to combat these crimes begin long before individuals arrive on campus. Our goal at Wellspring is to empower young people with the information and skills necessary to identify and intervene when they witness a potential SGBM incident.