What is your most memorable story serving members of dv/sa? What was memorable about it? Rewarding, challenging, inspiring?
Over several years DVS worked with an elderly survivor who was repeatedly abused by her husband. We provided shelter and support many times. As is the case with so many survivors, she returned again and again to the abuser. However, each time she participated in shelter and programs she made progress. Her self-esteem and independence grew. Eventually we were able to assist her obtaining her own housing. She faced this extreme abuse for 60 years, but she overcame the obstacles and secured her future. We smile whenever we think of her.
What are the biggest barriers you feel like your organization encounters? How do you address these barriers?
The barriers we encounter include assisting survivors with safe housing. Some survivors, due to past abuse or controlling behaviors of their partners, have obstacles to housing or employment. We work hard to help clients get into housing. We provide information about opportunities and assist with applications. Fortunately, we currently have some funds that we use to help with application fees and first month’s rent.
What are you excited about and proud of with your organization? What are some goals you hope to achieve?
DVS has talented staff who have led our organization’s effort to create and adapt support group material for survivors of domestic and sexual violence to meet the needs of our community. We have great relationships with community partners, especially the hospitals. Our staff is well trained and we never stop seeking out training opportunities. DVS staff has created an excellent course (DV 101) that we provide to our DHS partners in our two counties. To educate the community, DVS staff created several short (up to about an hour and a half) educational presentations featuring important topics such as Elder Abuse, Children and Domestic Violence, Teen Dating Violence, Why Does She Stay, Stalking, Sexual Assault and Basic Domestic Violence. We are also proud of our informative classes targeted to friends and family, co-workers and community partners who work with families at risk for domestic or sexual violence. The four-session classes help potential supporters understand these issues and why the affected person may behave in a way that is hard to understand. We are proud of our Life Skills program that features Job Readiness, Job Retention, Housing, Budgeting and Stress Management. DVS has a few staff certified to provide certain parenting classes: Abriendo Puertas, Nurturing Parenting, Parenting Now and Make Parenting a Pleasure. Our goal is to continue to creatively address the issues of sexual and domestic violence in Umatilla and Morrow Counties and to provide safety and support for all who are affected by abuse.
If your organization was a band, what band would it be and why?
While DVS doesn’t fit neatly into an actual band, we identify with some names of bands: Journey – Survivors are on a journey into new stages in their life and we walk with them briefly on their journey. We encourage them to never stop believing in themselves and try to give them the tools to create confidence in themselves to make it all happen. Another group is the Doors – again the name brings to mind how we strive to help survivors with resources and options that lead to different doors opening as they move forward.
Longest employed staff at your organization
Name: Manuel Gutierrez
Role: DV/SA Advocate
Years employed: 11
Maneul’s favorite comfort food: Mexican tortillas and chili
Manuel’s favorite quote: From JFK: “My fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country”
What drives Manuel: Manuel is driven to help people, something at which he excels. He conveys genuine concern for survivors and their children. Sometimes survivors run up to him years after they received services from DVS and thank him for helping them.