Friday, September 29, 2017

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Purses for Seeing What's Possible

Yesterday I  spoke with Miriam Dushane of Linium Recruiting. We talked about women's issues, employment, purple purses... and how trapped domestic violence victims can feel because they don't realize there are resources out there that can help them leave the abuse. Miriam has seen the effects of domestic violence in the workplace and also among women she knows. She offers words of encouragement, "There's no reason for you to stay in a relationship that's unhealthy." Click here for more about why Miriam is wearing a purple purse in October.

Miriam is right. Often people don't come to an agency like Wellspring because they think they need to be in crisis to access our services. They also may not come because they see too many obstacles to leaving and don't feel they have the resources: 'How would I afford rent?'... 'I don't have money for a lawyer so how would I get an order of protection,  custody or child support?'... I can't afford childcare if I go back to work... and what would I do in the summer when school is out. I'd have to leave my job' So they remain in the abuse, because the obstacles to leaving seem insurmountable... and they feel trapped. Wellspring has resources to help with all these obstacles...and you don't need to be in crisis to use our free, confidential services.

Kudos to Miriam and Linium for being so knowledgeable about domestic violence.  It's important for employers to have an understanding about domestic violence and the resources in our community to support an employee in need. When a victim leaves the abuse, the workplace may be the most predictable place to find him/her, so abusers will often stalk, harass or otherwise interfere with their partner's job. Did you know:
  • One in 5 people in the workplace experience relationship abuse in their lifetimes... and of that number 96% says their work suffers as a result.?
  • 40% of victims report being harassed at work by their abuser?
  • 74% of perpetrators had easy access to their partner's workplace? and
  • 21% of offenders contacted their victims at the workplace in violation of an order of protection?
Wellspring provides safety planning for survivors--at home, at school and at work. Wellspring also has a toolkit to help managers and supervisors recognize and respond when an employee job performance and safety are being a impacted by domestic violence. Wellspring also provides assistance to employers in developing workplace policies to address domestic violence and in helping employers respond when an employee is being abused. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Put Your Purse in your Mouth and "Heel"

Andy is ready to join his friends from Adirondack Veterinary Clinic and Bensons (where he gets yummy dog biscuits) at this year's Pooch Parade. There will be a blessing of the pets by the Reverend Peter Klotz, doggy CPR instruction, an obstacle course, pawdicures (nail trims) for just $5, and a dog walk. We'll give a special woof to the working dogs in our community, including the K9 dogs from the Sheriff's Dept  and the loving pups from Therapy Dogs International who will be at the parade.

It's a fun day for an important cause. Click here as Lisa Crawford tells why Maribeth Wallingford DVM and all the staff of Adirondack Veterinary Clinic support the Pooch Parade.

So join us for this fun, family event:
Saturday, September 30, 2017
 Congress Park in Saratoga Springs
10 am registration and activities
11 am the walk begins
$5/dog (humans free)

Monday, September 25, 2017

His Purse Demonstrates Powerful Role Modeling

We might think that the best place for kids to learn is in a classroom. But for youth, and for all of us, sometimes our best lessons come when we least expect it. Anders Mattson, the Director of Instruction at Saratoga National Golf Academy, certainly teaches youth about how to swing a golf club... but also teaches about social responsibility. Click here for more from Anders.

At Wellspring, we understand the powerful influence a coach has on a young athlete. That's why we're bring Coaching Boys into Men®  (CBIM) to schools in Saratoga and Washington Counties, at no cost to the school. CBIM is an evidence based curriculum that's been used across the country and globally that helps coaches incorporate a leadership component into their work with youth so their athletes build respectful and non-violent relationships.  Men-- fathers, uncles, teachers, and coaches -- have an important and necessary role to play in ending violence against women and children. Coaching Boys into Men® has a growing global community of coaches and athletes helping to prevent domestic violence and relationship abuse. 

If you are interested in learning more about Coaching Boys into Men® or bringing it to your school, or other athletics program, contact Wellspring. We're committed to providing our community partners the tools so that together we can create the social change needed to end relationship and sexual abuse.


Sunday, September 24, 2017

His purse represents a commitment to love, compassion and justice

Recently I was speaking with the Reverend Joe Cleveland of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Saratoga Springs about domestic violence. His church has long supported the work of Wellspring, because our mission connects so well with the beliefs that underlie their faith. Reverend Cleveland explains that his congregation is, "committed to love, compassion and justice." Click here for more about why his church cares... and why he personally is passionately committed to ending domestic violence.

I love sitting in the sanctuary of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation and looking at the beautiful quilt behind the altar (a small section of it shown in the picture above). I often think if we all allowed our every action to be guided by love, truth, tolerance, service, and compassion, how much better this world would be.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

I'm Not the Only One Who Is Excited!

I  just had the pleasure of speaking with two dear friends, Jesse and 
Antoinette Jackson (Jesse on-air, but as always Antoinette and I continued the conversation long after the cameras stopped rolling.) Look TV has long been a champion and partner in our efforts to increase awareness about relationship and sexual abuse.

So Jesse and I were talking about the upcoming Allstate Purple Purse Challenge. At Wellspring we've set a really big goal ... leading Saratoga County to #1 in the nation during the month-long fundraising challenge, to show that our whole community is committed to the vision of ending relationship and sexual abuse.

I've gotta say, our friends at Look TV are just as excited as we are about the possibilities. Watch the interview here, to learn more about Allstate's Purple Purse Challenge... and what you can do to help.

Friday, September 22, 2017

They're for Safe Homes and Purple Purses


Just thinking of the word do you exhale, smile a bit and feel calmer? I do. Home (no matter how bustling or busy) is a place you are loved, surrounded by family, and where you can be relaxed and comfortable. But in a home where there's domestic violence, sometimes the home is loving and then can, in an instant, change to a place with fear. So the people living there are never fully relaxed. At Wellspring, survivors often describe, "always feeling like I'm walking on eggshells." Charles Wait Jr. knows that, "when violence enters the home, people need safe spaces... and Wellspring offers a safe place to go." Click here for more about why he supports Wellspring's work and the Purple Purse Challenge.

Belmonte Builders knows a thing or two about building homes from the foundation to the roof shingles. Lindsey Belmonte supports Wellspring's work because like Belmonte Builders we help create, "safe homes in safe communities".  Click here for more from Lindsey.

As a realtor, Karen Charbonneau of Miranda Realty certainly knows the importance of a home. But her reason for supporting Wellspring and the Purple Purse Challenge is far deeper and more personal. As a teenager, she saw children growing up in homes with domestic violence and she remembers, "the fear in the faces of children in homes with domestic violence." As she talks about it, it's clear that these years later she still  remembers those faces, and cares about this issue because she too wants a community where no child experiences that fear...especially at home. Click here for more from Karen.

When an individual or a family needs to leave home because it's not safe, Wellspring can help. Last year alone we provided 2,865 bed nights of safe slumber for adults and children fleeing abuse. Shelter isn't our only housing option though. Our NewView Housing program provides rent subsidized apartments throughout Saratoga County for domestic violence survivors. Last year we provided apartments for 31 families (with 45 children) so they could be safe (that's 17,000 nights of safe sleep in a violence-free home). In addition to the rent subsidy we provide weekly in-home support services to help the family remain safe, heal, and achieve employment of financial goals so they can remain abuse-free and be self-sufficient.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Purses Looking Out From Inside

Because I spend so much time talking to the public about Wellspring, people often think of me when they think of the agency. But I'm only a very small part of Wellspring. The agency has 19 dedicated employees who daily carry out our mission to support survivors and engage the community to end relationship and sexual abuse. They quietly and humbly provide the caring and knowledgeable support that helps survivors achieve safety, heal from trauma and transcend the abuse. We also have a board of directors that focuses on long range goals so Wellspring will continue to meet the needs of our community. And we have dedicated volunteers and interns who help in many different ways: fostering pets, providing financial literacy training,  assisting with office work, and helping with fundraisers (and we've got a bunch of those coming up in October!)
Today two of our advocates are my guest bloggers,  sharing their thoughts on the work they do and how your support enables them to make a difference. They coordinate one of our October fundraisers each year as a way to connect with you. Enough from me,  their words are way more meaningful...

As Wellspring advocates, we work directly with people experiencing domestic or sexual abuse. We assist clients through a variety of challenges; advocates may find themselves linking clients to important resources that may pay for costly medications and services their insurance do not cover, or working with clients to process their experience and the reactions associated with the trauma they have undergone. We may accompany clients to police stations or to the hospital for an exam. If clients choose to report and their case goes to prosecution, we will accompany the victim through any stage of the process and offer emotional support. We also offer assistance and support to family members or friends of a victim to help them process their feelings and to help them best support their loved one. Every day we work hard to ensure that victims feel heard and supported, and that they are given all of the information they need in order to make informed decisions. Additionally, we work to engage the community to end relationship and sexual abuse. Throughout the year, we present information about the dynamics of dating violence, consent, and healthy relationships to over 5,000 high schools students throughout the county. Additionally, we work with Skidmore students on social change initiatives.

This October, Wellspring will again be participating in the Allstate Foundation Purple Purse Challenge. The Allstate Foundation created the Purple Purse Challenge to raise awareness about an often overlooked tactic of control: financial abuse. The Challenge calls on domestic violence agencies to raise funds throughout October that the Foundation will match or even multiply. The Allstate Foundation Purple Purse Challenge encourages advocates to go beyond their job title to spread awareness and engage our community in new and creative ways.

On October 12th, Wellspring is teaming up with local restaurant NaNola to host our second annual event for the Purple Purse Challenge: Wellspring at NaNola. There will be a 50/50, raffle give-a-ways, and a game of Family Feud for everyone to participate in. Wellspring at NaNola is a way for community members to show that they want to be a part of the solution to end domestic abuse. Last year, we were moved by the support Wellspring received and we are excited to see what this year brings. By supporting Wellspring at NaNola, you are helping Wellspring provide services to survivors that may not be available without your contribution.  If a client calls needing space for shelter, but our shelter is unsafe for them or full, your contribution allows us to buy them bus tickets to assist in their relocation to another county’s domestic violence shelter. A family may come in after a day’s worth of travel for us to find that they have not had access to food, your contribution allows us to buy them lunch while they complete a shelter intake. Clients who have been denied access to money may need professional clothes for a job interview, gas to get to their child’s school play, or money to fill a prescription; it is your contribution that allows us to give them a gift card to assist with those needs. Your contribution helps Wellspring to assist with everyday needs that other grant resources may not cover, allowing Wellspring to provide more comprehensive services keeping in mind the various challenges clients may face.

Wellspring wants to extend a huge thank you to our community!

-          Thank you to the local businesses throughout Saratoga County that have donated items for our raffle.

-          Thank you to NaNola for donating your space, a percentage of Thursday October 12th’s sales and your continued support of Wellspring!

-          And Thank YOU for supporting our event. We are proud to be a part of a community that so readily supports our goal of ending relationship and sexual abuse in our community.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Differently Abled Purses

By now you've probably realized that every day Wellspring collaborates with many of our local nonprofit agencies and community organizations to  provide the best services we can for our clients. We don't need to re-create the wheel if another agency has a program or service  that would benefit our clients, we refer them... and they do the same.  The mission of Saratoga County Economic Opportunity Council (EOC) is to provide and promote opportunities for individuals and families to achieve self-sufficiency-- clearly a mission that's also important to Wellspring. Click here to hear Krystal Nowhitney Hernandez  talk about how EOC collaborates and supports Wellspring's mission... the second part of her video is a clue to just one of the unique challenges domestic violence survivors may face as they look to leave the abuse.
The Prevention Council strives to give youth the skills they need to choose healthy behaviors (thereby reducing the possibility that they will engage in drug or alcohol use or other risk behaviors). Their executive director, Janine Stuchin  says "everyone deserves to grow up in a home that is safe." and she also knows that addressing violence in the home can reduce the risk of drug and alcohol use among youth. Click here for more from Janine.
Sometimes the social issues that correlate with domestic violence aren't readily apparent. AIM Services is dedicated to partnering with people of diverse abilities to foster growth and independence. The people they assist may have developmental challenges or traumatic brain injury. How does this intersect with the work of Wellspring? Abusers may prey upon someone with challenges, exploiting their vulnerabilities. Alternately, just being a victim of abuse, particularly intense or repeated physical abuse, can result in traumatic brain injury. Often the symptoms and how they impact the person's life aren't identified or connected to their history of domestic violence... sometimes simply because no one has asked about a history of abuse. Both Wellspring and AIM Services work to provide what Walt Adams describes as "a better quality of life for people at a time in their life when they really need someone who can understand and support them." Click here for more from Walt
Every domestic violence survivor's obstacles to leaving and their support needs are different. Often they bring vulnerabilities that may have predated the  abuse... or may be as a result of trauma caused by the domestic violence... or by a lifetime of trauma. The barriers are diverse: limited proficiency in English, immigration concerns, learning or developmental disabilities. These can all complicate employment and self-sufficiency. Or there may be mental health concerns or alcohol or drug dependencies- sometimes these were coping strategies that helped the person get through the day... but in the end complicated their life. And sometimes what people think of as deficiencies or challenges, when looked at from a different angle show strength and resilience, that folks who haven't overcome such obstacles don't have. At Wellspring we understand the complexities of people's lives and have partnerships with other organizations to provide the support they need to overcome these barriers.  So whatever challenges you are struggling with, you are not alone. We can help.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Nicole Kidman Is Holding an Emmy Instead of a Purple Purse

... but she's holding it for the same reason.

Did you watch the Emmy Awards last night? Arguably the most powerful acceptance speech was delivered by Nicole Kidman as she accepted the award for outstanding actress in a limited series or movie. It's her first Emmy, but her words will linger in Emmy history, "... sometimes when you're acting, you get a chance to bring a bigger message... We shone a light on domestic abuse."

She accepted the award for her role in Big Little Lies, where she played a character who was in an abusive relationship. She acknowledged how difficult it was to play this role. I applaud Kidman for using her moment of recognition to open up a conversation about the "complicated, insidious disease" of domestic violence. The first step to ending relationship abuse is to talk about it so we're able to recognize it, understand it, and help victims toward the resources they need to become survivors.

And we've got an opportunity to start that conversation right here in Saratoga County. On Sunday, October 15th at 4 pm at Northshire Books in Saratoga Springs, we're having an open community discussion about Big Little Lies. It's like a one time book club. If you missed a previous blog post, where Robin Dalton talked about Big Little Lies  and the work Wellspring does, you can see it here. Thanks Nicole... and thanks Robin,  for inspiring us to start the conversation. We all know that when women start talking about what really matters, positive change happens. So whether you've read the book or watched the series, join us...  there will be women -and men- there who care about this issue too. Let's start to conversation, and then let's work together to end relationship and sexual abuse.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Senator Tedisco's Purse Protects Our Most Vulnerable Family Members

If you- or your dog- missed yesterday's blog post,  it was an invitation to join us for the 7th Annual Pooch Parade. It's a fun event that supports a very serious need, the often forgotten victims of domestic violence, our pets. Senator Jim Tedisco has long been a champion for those whose voices aren't heard, especially for children and for animals. For decades he has represented us advocating for fiscal accountability and state government reform...and his commitment to protecting vulnerable children and animals has always been central to his public services.  It's been a primary message in his campaign promises, 'Realizing that animal cruelty is a bridge crime and those who abuse animals often go on to hurt people, Tedisco was the driving force behind passage of the landmark Buster’s Law to protect our pets by making animal cruelty a felony. In 2011, Tedisco again made history by creating the first-ever NYS Animal Advocacy Day to give voice to all members of our families.'

Click here to hear why he supports the work of Wellspring and other agencies like ours that provide a vital link to the safety for survivors of abuse.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Pooches with Purses

Calling all pups. Grab your purple purses (or just your leash and your human) and get ready for the Pooch Parade. It's a fun, family oriented event with adorable pooches, a blessing of the pets, raffles, and even free biscuits. And your pooch will leave the event in style with a new kerchief... and maybe even a pawdicure (only $5 for nail trimming). All the proceeds benefit Wellspring's survivor services and prevention efforts.

Wondering what's the connection between pups and a domestic violence agency? You know Wellspring helps individuals and families be safe from abuse. But sometimes we forget that in a home where there's abuse, every family member can be a victim... and that includes our furry, feathered and finned family members.  Wellspring has a Safe Pet Partnership that provides temporary foster homes for pets, while their families are in shelter. Then when they find a violence-free home, they can all be reunited.

Our friends at Adirondack Veterinary Services, and our event chair Maribeth Wallingford, invite you to join Andy, my dog with a purple purse, at the Pooch Parade. We'll also be recognizing the dogs that work hard helping others, our local K9 dogs and also our friends from Therapy Dogs International.

Friday, September 15, 2017

My Role Models With A Purple Purse

In yesterday's blog, I highlighted 80 women who inspire me every day... well I'm continuing that theme with three more women who are changemakers in our community, in so many ways.

Linda Toohey isn't just an impressive and unparalleled community leader in her own right, but she has inspired and mentored hundreds (thousands?) of local professionals to be impactful volunteers and 
leaders. The legacy she created through Leadership Saratoga has transformed our nonprofit community since 1985; the contributions of these dedicated leaders to health human services organizations, the arts, higher education, and public service can't be quantified.  Yesterday Linda and I were talking and she started our conversation with the intriguing line, "If I were a betting woman..." and continued with how this related to Wellspring's mission. Wondering what she'd bet on? Click here to find out.

Theresa Skaine, a 2006 graduate of Leadership Saratoga, doesn't let a busy life stand in the way of community volunteerism, serving on the Saratoga Hospital Board of Trustees, the Regional YMCA Board of Directors,  the Saratoga Springs Senior Center... and she served as the president of Wellspring's board for many years. I recall hearing Theresa speaking on a panel to a group of professional women many years ago and she was asked for her advice on achieving work/life balance. I've never forgotten her answer as it was forthright, totally relatable and channeled the humor and acceptance we all need to balance our lives. I'm paraphrasing, but her secret was to realize that you can't stay on top of everything all the time, but need to make sure nothing slips off the radar for too long. That's advice I can follow. Theresa's breadth and depth of knowledge about Wellspring is evident in her words (click here for her video), "All Wellspring's programs create a community that's better to live in."

I've had many delightful and insightful on-air conversations with Jesse Jackson at Look TV. But when the cameras stop rolling, I often linger in the studio chatting with Antoinette Jackson about Wellspring's work and our vision of ending relationship and sexual abuse. Our conversations take deep dives into issues of equality, empowering women and creating social change and peaceable communities. I'm always inspired by her hopefulness about encouraging positive change, "Wellspring offers an array of opportunities for someone who wants to make a change in their life." Click here for more from Antoinette.

Many people think of Wellspring as a place you can turn to when in crisis, but you don't need to be in crisis to receive our services, nor do you need to be considering leaving a relationship to work with us.  You can call our hotline or make an appointment with an advocate when you need information... or just need to talk.  You may not even be sure that what you're experiencing in the relationship is abuse; that's OK, we'll explore that with you. Many people don't think they can access our services unless there's physical abuse, so they 'walk on eggshells' enduring emotional abuse, social isolation, or financial control. In fact, you don't even need to be experiencing abuse yourself. You may be concerned for someone in your life who is an abuse victim- a relative, friend, son or daughter, parent... or employee. With free and confidential services, we can help you better understand how to support your loved one.  So don't wait for a crisis; we can help now.

Office 518-583-0280
24 Hour Hotline 518-584-8188

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Sisterhood of Purple Purses... and More

Today is my family photo day!

These women (and more who aren't in the picture) are all my sisters. It's a big family with more than 80 women.  Do we look like sisters? We all look different, tall, short, skin that's fair, freckled, olive or brown, hair that's straight, curly, blonde, red, brown, black and shimmering silver. But we are sisters. Our family name is Soroptimist; the name means Best for Women. If you haven't heard of Soroptimist it's an international women's service organization that's been around since 1921 when a group of women in California were concerned about local issues and wanted to volunteer to improve their communities, but weren't allowed to join the 'male' service organizations. Now the organization has 1,300 clubs in 20 countries with ~100,000 members.

Soroptimist Vision: Women and girls have the resources and opportunities to reach their full potential and live their dreams.
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Soroptimist Mission: Soroptimist improves the lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment.
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But what makes me proud to be a Soroptimist isn't the numbers -- it's our impact. Our local Club, Soroptimist International of Saratoga County,  supports projects locally, nationally and globally that benefit women and girls (providing $45,000 support to organizations annually). Locally we support dozens of programs like Shelters of Saratoga, CAPTAIN, Camp Abilities, Girls on the Run, To Life!... and more.  By working with  and providing financial support to other caring organizations like the Giving Circle and To Love a Child, we also have an impact far from Saratoga County. Globally we've established birthing centers in Uganda, mobile medical units in Ecuador, we've drilled wells in third world communities without water and installed sanitation in a disaster ravaged area in Haiti... and more. We don't just send funds to support those efforts. We also have Soroptimist members who travel there, volunteer, talk to the people about what their needs are, and keep up the relationships year after year. 

And of course there's our signature service project, Project Hope and Power, an eight week financial literacy program to help women become more financially self-sufficient. Now in its 13th year, the program has assisted about 700 women to achieve a better life for themselves and their children. Our Soroptimist members volunteer more than 400 hours each year to the program. So many participants note that it's the inspiring Soroptimist class facilitators they see each week that gives them the confidence and inspiration to achieve their goals. Here's the feedback from just a few of the 700 women who have participated in the program; it's heartwarming to hear that the program has helped them with increasing their financial knowledgeable, finding independence... and more.

“I liked that most of the instructors are women.  I was definitely inspired and was given strength from them… It was very empowering and supportive when I especially needed it. “
“The things I have learned from this program will help me better not only my own future, but my children’s as well.  I left each class feeling confident and able to tackle day to day tasks that will eventually lead to achieving my goals.”

“As a result of taking this class, I plan to be more confident in myself and always remember that I’m not alone.  I will get stronger as the weeks go by, emotionally and physically.  Nothing will ever stop me again.  No one person will ever bring me down again.”

What I most like about the Soroptimist vision is that by helping a woman your impact doesn't end there. It ripples to her children, her community, and to the generations that follow. That's a powerful "and more".

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Their Purses Are For Safe Communities

Saratoga Springs Police Chief Greg Veitch sees the prevalence of domestic violence every day, Domestic violence is one of the most difficult calls a police officer responds to ... and one of the most dangerous." Click here for more from Chief Veitch. The SSPD shares Wellspring's goal to end relationship and sexual abuse in our community. In fact we've had an innovative collaboration for the past four years; Wellspring has an advocate co-located at the police department who follows up with victims after a domestic incident, offering support, information and resources. The survivors we call are often surprised at the services Wellspring offers and may take advantage of services beyond legal advocacy, such as our housing or financial literacy programs. And the daily interaction between Wellspring and the SSPD has deepened our collaboration, our understanding of the obstacles survivors face, and commitment to best practices to help survivors and educe future victimization.

Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner has long been a champion for healthy families and safe children. Click here as she provides stats and insights on the prevalence of domestic violence in our community... and an inspiring call to action,"We've got to turn this around." She's right  and working together we can do it! 

Ending domestic violence doesn't happen overnight... and you've got to start early to change values and beliefs. This year we've launched an innovative social change program, Coaching  Boys Into Men (CBIM). This evidence-based program builds on the strong relationship coaches have with young male athletes... and their influence as respected role models. CBIM provides coaches the resources they need to talk with their teams about difficult issues such as bullying, healthy relationships and signs of abuse.  Our goal in working with these coaches is to prepare their athletes to be able to handle the complexities of relationships and make them aware of abuse and what they can do to stop it. Our stuent athletes are respected role models; let's give them the tools to influence their peers in working to end bullying and dating violence.  Coaches at Ballston Spa and Shenendehowa High schools have been trained to deliver the program this school year.   If you are interested in seeing this program at your school, call us at 518.583.0280 or email cbim@wellspringcares.org









Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Those Little Handprints Are Why They Carry a Purse

Folks often ask me if our local nonprofits ever work together -- yes, every single day! We all have limited resources so we are very aware of what supports other agencies offer and regularly collaborate to provide the best client response most cost effectively.
 Today I was at the Saratoga Center for the Family, working with the staff of the Harriet West Child Advocacy Center. You can't walk into their building without smiling at what a kid-friendly vibe they have. The bright colors are uplifting, which is important as they deal with really serious issues of child abuse, "helping children and families with coping, healing and moving forward." Click here for more about how we work together... but more importantly look at all the small handprints on the wall behind the staff.  Those prints aren't just decorations; kids who've been helped at the CAC get to pick a place on their walls and leave their mark-- not only on the wall, but on the hearts of the staff who see every day the  magnitude of child abuse in our community and help each child to transcend these experiences and have a bright, safe tomorrow.
Most people know about the basic needs assistance Wellspring provides for families, including, clothing, emergency shelter, subsidized housing, and food assistance -- these services help both adults and children. However,there are a number of smaller programs that rarely get the spotlight.  Two of these programs are our summer camperships and school supply assistance programs.  These programs allow the children in families that are transitioning from homes with domestic violence to be kids doing normal kid things like playing with friends at summer camp or starting school off on the right foot (even if that first day you're in a new school where you'll need to make all new friends). While these services provide normalcy for kids during a period of transition, they also reduce stress for the parent that has just left the abuse, giving her/him time to focus on things that may be difficult to do while juggling childcare, like job searches, court dates, and looking for an apartment. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Rocking A Purse for Learning and Helping Others

I started off today chatting with two folks whose commitment to their fellow human beings is unwavering and inspirational, Mark Bertrand and Robin Dalton. Bright and early this morning they were organizing the Giving Circle's collection of items to help hurricane victims. It seems that whenever there's a need, in Saratoga, nationally or globally, the Giving Circle is doing what they can to help.
Today and tomorrow they're continuing to collect items to send 2 trucks of basic needs assistance to folks whose homes, lives and supports have been decimated by these natural disasters.  I feel blessed to go home to my family and my modest home... and can't imagine what it's like to see a whole community ravaged by a hurricane. My small gift card by itself isn't much, perhaps only enough for a couple of sheets of plywood to repair a tiny section of a roof, but together our impact can be significant. Want to help?

Here's what they need... and below hear what Robin and I talked about.

Robin made my day a few a couple of months after our Changemakers fundraiser last year. At that event we condensed several of our prevention ed programs into 90 second snippets  to show participants what we cover in the programs (not an easy feat to take a 1-2 hour program and shrink it to 90 seconds!) She said that a few weeks after the event, she'd been watching the HBO series Big Little Lies and suddenly what she'd learned at our tabling exercise came back to her and she had a much better understanding of the challenges faced by a domestic violence survivor.. and the more she's learned about relationship abuse, the more she's attuned to subtle cures and how to be supportive, "when someone is leaving abuse, there can be so few options... we need to look to our friends and our community for support." Robin's words inspired me to do more outreach, because I saw that just 90 seconds can make a difference; click here for more of what she had to say.

We had a fun time talking about Big Little Lies. The women in our group said we need more opportunities like this to talk about relationship abuse... well we've got just that. On Sunday October 15th at 4 pm, Northshire Books is having a community book discussion about the  Big Little Lies. So whether you've read the book or watched the TV series, join us for a spirited discussion. Together we can end relationship and sexual abuse... and that starts with increased awareness.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

He Rocks a Purse for Trafficked Youth

John Kelly has been a respected advocate for youth throughout his career. From his start as a police officer with the Saratoga Springs Police Department (and his work with thousands of youth through the DARE program and as a school resource officer) to his leadership of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, his work with the Saratoga County Center for the Family, and now his leadership on launching a coordinated community response to trafficking here in Saratoga County. Yes, trafficking...yes, in Saratoga County!  When most of us think of trafficking we don't think of this community. We imagine exploitation that happens in another country, or else vulnerable youth brought across the border and trafficked in a large city, but trafficking in a predominantly suburban county- not what we think of.

It happens--more often than anyone realizes... including those of us who work in the field. Through the Safe Harbour program, now in its 3rd year, daily we're identifying more youth who are being trafficked or are at risk of being trafficked...in our community. Since July 2016, right here in Saratoga County, the Safe Harbour Team has identified 13 trafficking victims and another 62 individuals under the age of 21 who scored a "high risk" on the trafficking screening tool. And that's just youth. As John says, "it's important for us all to pay attention to the warning signs and to acknowledge it does happen." Click here to hear more from John about youth trafficking.

Interested in learning more about trafficking? Click here for a fact sheet on the different types of trafficking. 

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Their Purses Are Because They See The Need

Many of the elected officials I speak with tell me they ran for office because they had a deep commitment to their community and a few issues they felt a need to champion. So often they remark that once elected, they learned so much more about  every issue affecting the environment, economy, infrastructure and the people they serve. I'm always awestruck as they describe the breadth of knowledge they absorb in those first years of public service.

Domestic violence is often one of those issues they had never considered... but as they learn about the issues affecting public safety, are surprised to learn it's a fundamental concern. As Supervisor Peter Martin says, "Domestic violence is one of the most prominent crimes", and the services Wellspring provides are, "a vital part of our social safety net." Click here for more from Peter.

The United Way of the Greater Capital Region has a vision that all members of a community are connected , "These are our friends, neighbors and coworkers. As members of a community, we are all connected. One person's suffering is our suffering too. And when one person succeeds, we all win." They support programs that address four primary building blocks of wellness and self-sufficiency. 

To really understand community need, they regularly analyze strengths, challenges, obstacles and innovative best practices and share them se so programs can be most effective n the work they do with clients.  Click here to hear from Brian Hassett on why they've "always supported domestic safety organizations  and why Wellspring's services are so important."
Wellspring's crisis services are well known: a 24-hour hotline that responds to about 1,700 calls/year, Saratoga County's  only domestic violence shelter, and 24/7 accompaniment to the hospital or police for victims of domestic violence or sexual assault. Even non-crisis support services like counseling, and legal advocacy are well known. But many people are surprised by the multitude of services we offer to support basic needs and economic self-sufficiency. From essential needs like our food pantry, clothing assistance, and our rent subsidized housing program that last year alone provided 17,000 bed nights of safe slumber in violence-free apartments for 75 adults and children,  to holiday assistance for 200 people/year, assistance with summer camps so the parent can remain working, and backpacks and school supplies for more than 130 children this year, we regularly support families in getting back on their feet, feeling stable and becoming self- sufficient. Addressing those four basic building blocks can provide a sound foundation for a safe and healthy future.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Carrying a Purse for 1 in 4 Women

Jen Perry was a dedicated board member at Wellspring for 6 years, She was motivated because she relates to the many people we assist.  She sums it up well, "Domestic violence affects people like my friends and family; it can happen to anyone at any time."  Click here for more of Jen's insights.

While relationship abuse can happen to anyone, most people aren't aware of the prevalence. Jessica Petraccione notes that, "most people don't hear about domestic violence on a regular basis." She's right (click here for more from Jessica). Even when there's a tragedy, the news often gives the details of the incident, but fails to use the words domestic violence. At Wellspring we have many clients who call our hotline or talk to our advocates who say, "This has been going on for years, but I've never told anyone until today... not even my sister." There's a saying that 'Silence Hides Violence'; it's true. Most abuse happens behind closed doors so when we don't hear about the  issue, we forget about it.

Sheena Shaw speaks with courage about domestic violence and also about why, "It's important for our youth to know where to get help."  

Did you know, Wellspring has advocates on campus at Shenendehowa and Saratoga Springs High Schools and also at Skidmore College? We know that by providing access to an advocate, students can get help with concerns about relationships, dating violence.... or find out how to help a friend who is in an abusive relationship. We provide all these services to individuals and to the schools at no charge, because early intervention is key to preventing abuse from escalating.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Rocking a Purse Because He Knows Prevention Works

So I took a  couple of days off from blogging to celebrate Labor Day with my family. But I'm back and thought I'd keep with the Labor Day theme by considering how lessons learned in the workplace can relate to Wellspring's vision of ending relationship and sexual abuse.
And that purse looks great with Dave's outfit and complexion!
Today I was talking to Dave Collins. He's seen vast changes in the construction industry because of a proactive approach to workplace safety. Listen here for  Dave's insights on how what we've learned about safety on a building worksite relates to prevention of relationship abuse. Training and education save lives in the workplace... and they can prevent abuse and save lives at home too.
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. To that end we provide prevention education programs to more than 6,000 youth and community members each year.Two of these interactive programs are “A Jury’s Dilemma” and “In Her Shoes”.  “A Jury’s Dilemma” is a mock trial exploring a case of teenage sexual assault.  The program participants are the jurors in the trial. 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  at your school, church our community group, contact prevention@wellspringcares.org

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Still Puzzled?

Here is the answer to yesterday's puzzle!  We took the liberty of coloring it as well, but if you look you can see it is...
A Purple Purse!
I hope everyone has a fantastic labor day weekend!

Friday, September 1, 2017


While we are so excited about Purple Purse in October, even we need a break sometimes.  Our vision of ending relationship and sexual abuse in our community is a big one, but that doesn't mean we can't have a bit of fun now and again. Below is a fun little puzzle to help us relax, while still getting out an important message.

This is a type of puzzle known as a Nonogram or Picross.  You can find full instructions for this type of puzzle here http://www.nonograms.org/instructions. 

If you solve it, you’ll reveal a hidden picture relating to what we have going on in October!
Good luck, and we will be revealing the answer tomorrow!