Friday, December 27, 2013

Happy New Year!

2014 is just around the corner, it is hard to believe another year has passed. 2013 was a year filled with challenges as well as the strength and wisdom to persevere and conquer the challenges. We always reflect on the year passed and what the New Year holds in store for us, the possibilities for us as an agency and for the individuals we serve. It is a great time to set goals and reflect on our accomplishments. We will review our programs and make any necessary changes and look to what else we need to do to address the needs of our clients, always with the goal of ending domestic violence.
We will continue to be a voice for those who are struggling and to make a positive impact in the lives of those we provide services to every day. We couldn’t do what we do without the community support that we receive. We are so grateful to everyone who supports us in carrying out our mission. We have so many volunteers and supporters who help us every day and make our services possible. We are so appreciative of all that they do.
I wish you all a happy and safe New Year and look forward to working with you in 2014 to ending the cycle of violence.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The holidays are here, with Thanksgiving being so late this year everything seems upon us sooner than we are ready. We are working hard to make sure that everyone who is with us has the best holiday and is able to celebrate in the way that they choose. Whether they celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas or any other celebration, we want it to be special for them. Being in shelter during the holidays can be tough for families. There are traditions and expectations of being with family and when one is in shelter those traditions can be difficult to celebrate and to maintain.

We have had many groups volunteering for us. Some help out in the holiday store, some host toy and food drives, and other are hosting holiday parties for those in our services. One gentleman dropped by with seven Christmas trees - complete with lights - to donate to those in our outreach program or for those just leaving shelter and who may not have a tree. We’ve had groups do collection drives for us and when they've dropped the donations off they were just as excited to give the gifts as we were to receive them!

The holidays have a special magic to them and people in our community are so generous with their time and resources. We are grateful for the support that we receive. Thank you to this wonderful community for helping us to make sure no one goes without. Mothers do not have to worry about how they are going to provide a holiday meal for their family or how they’re going to make sure Santa comes to their house or to shelter. Somehow Santa finds them no matter where they are and, even if for just a short while, the adults can put their worries aside and enjoy the season.

It truly is the most wonderful time of the year as we celebrate everyone’s uniqueness and share our good fortunes with those who are less fortunate. Thank you for sharing this season with us and making a difference in the lives of those we serve.
Happy holidays!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


It is Thanksgiving already. It's hard to believe that time has gone by so fast. I know as you get older it goes faster and for me this is so true. I've been making it a practice to acknowledge all of the blessings that I have in my life and to be more aware of all that I have to be thankful for, both big and small. I am truly blessed with family, friends, co-workers and supporters of Hope House. 

My good friend and colleague who runs another domestic violence program just lost her husband after a fierce battle with cancer. My heart hurts for her and her family as they struggle this Thanksgiving with their husband, father and grandfather not being with them. I know her and she will remain grateful for all of the support that she has and for the prayers she has coming her way. She will find a way to be positive and supportive of others even as she walks through her own path of grieving. She is an amazing woman—one I am so proud to know and call my friend. I am thankful for her friendship and the guidance she gave to me as I took on the role of CEO of Hope House. She understands and lives every day the true meaning of Thanksgiving and my prayers will be with her today and throughout this holiday season.

I know many supporters of Hope House are facing challenges this year. I am approaching this Thanksgiving with a heightened sense of gratitude for all that I and Hope House have been given. I will continue to hold those who are struggling in the light and pray for a sense of peace and comfort for them.

I am truly thankful to everyone who helps make Hope House a beacon of hope for thousands of people every year. I wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Howlin' For Hope, Sunday, November 10th, 3-6 at Howl at the Moon

We are very excited about our upcoming 6th annual Howlin for Hope, sponsored by Carter Energy. This event will be held at the dueling piano bar Howl at the Moon which is located in the Power and Light district. This event is a great way to get involved and help while having a great time. If you have never been to Howl at the Moon you are in for a treat. The dueling piano players create a fun, music filled atmosphere and lots of opportunities for patrons to get on stage and join them for laughs and the opportunity to win prizes. You can request songs, you can encourage your friends to embarrass themselves and you have the opportunity to help Hope House raise desperately needed funds.

The funds raised at this event will be used for capital needs at one of our campuses. We have over $200,000 worth of projects that need to be done. We have work to do in shelter and around the grounds. The wear and tear our buildings take is truly amazing. But when you consider that both shelters house over 1,100 people every year it isn’t surprising that they need major upkeep. We will work with other sources to raise the remaining funds needed for all of our capital needs.

I hope you can join us at Howlin for Hope on Sunday, November 10th from 3-6 at Howl at the Moon. For details visit our website at  or call Nancy at 813-257-9328 for sponsorship and ticket information.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Jackson Katz Part II

Last week I discussed what I learned in the Jackson Katz workshop and I would like to take more time today to discuss an approach that Dr. Katz developed called The Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) Mode. This is a gender violence, bullying and school violence prevention approach that encourages young men and women from all socioeconomic, racial and ethnic backgrounds to take on leadership roles in their schools and communities.

I found this program to be engaging and very effective. It has been used in schools with the focus on students with their friends, their peers, their fellow students. The program looks not at the “victim” or the “perpetrator” but at the bystander. What do the people who are witnessing a violent act or situation do? How do they respond? What do you do if you are in the hallway and you see a guy push a girl into the locker—you aren’t close friends with them but you know them? No one in the hallway is doing anything. What do you do? What can you do? What are your choices? So many people think there are only two responses: intervene physically to stop it or do nothing. What if there are other options? Through this program students are able to see that there are different ways to respond. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. They are shown that each individual can learn valuable skills to build their personal resolve and to act when faced with difficult or threatening life situations.

From his website Dr. Katz describes the program this way: The heart of the model is interactive discussion, in single-sex and mixed-gender classes and workshops, using real-life scenarios that speak to the experiences of young men and women in high school, college and other areas of social life. The chief curricular innovation of MVP is a training tool called the Playbook, which consists of a series of realistic scenarios depicting abusive male (and sometimes female) behavior. The Playbook—with separate versions for boys/men and girls/women—transports participants into scenarios as witnesses to actual or potential abuse, then challenges them to consider a number of concrete options for intervention before, during or after an incident.

Many people mistakenly believe that they have only two options in instances of actual or potential violence: intervene physically and possibly expose themselves to personal harm or do nothing. As a result, they often choose to do nothing.

But intervening physically or doing nothing are not the only possible choices. The MVP Model seeks to provide bystanders with numerous options, most of which carry no risk of personal injury. With more options to choose from, people are more likely to respond and not be passive and silent—and hence complicit—in violence or abuse by others. Some suggestions to come out of the group process: Talk to an adult. Check in with someone who is experiencing bullying or violence. Or check in with someone who is doing the bullying and let them know that's not acceptable. Many young men and women, and people in US society in general, have been socialized to be passive bystanders in the face of sexist abuse and violence. This conditioning is reflected in the oft-heard statement that a situation "between a man and a woman" is "none of my business."

I found this program exciting and I would love to see it implanted in the local schools here in Eastern Jackson County. Let’s help young people learn that they can get involved and they can have a role in ending the violence. To learn more about the Bystander Approach visit the website: . To learn more about Hope House and the services we offer visit our website: . I encourage you to get involved and to make a difference.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Domestic Violence Awareness Month Continues...

I had the opportunity to attend a very thought provoking workshop presented by the KC Metropolitan Bar Foundation. Jackson Katz was the presenting speaker.

Jackson Katz is an educator, author, filmmaker and social theorist who has long been recognized as one of America's leading anti-sexist male activists. Mr. Katz spent four hours discussing men’s violence against women in our society and how our language and actions have continued to perpetuate this grave and serious problem. I would like to spend some time in October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, discussing what I learned from the lecture. I have been working in the domestic violence field for a long time and I still found myself learning new things and hearing new thoughts on how to approach this very old and growing problem in our society.

The first thing I took away from the lecture was his thought that we don’t really need an Awareness Month for domestic violence. Our society is very aware of the issue of domestic violence but what we need now is action. Let’s take action which will lead to the end of the violence. I found this interesting and thought provoking. How can we make this happen? What can I do to lead this type of movement?

Mr. Katz spent the first part of the lecture discussing our language as we discuss domestic violence or, as he says, “Men’s Violence Against Women”. Yes, there are other types of violence—men against men, women against women, women against men—but the overwhelming majority of domestic violence is men against women. He says let’s call it what it is. But he also acknowledged that is difficult to do. Programs that are struggling cannot risk alienating supporters who may not be comfortable hearing those terms. They fear push back from partners in the community who might not want to be so forceful in the messaging. It is a balancing act and one that can come with a price.

He described how our language doesn’t hold men accountable for their violence. When talking about victims and perpetrators, we degender the perpetrator and gender the victim. What does that mean? It means we call victims, women, she, her or assign a gender to the victim. When discussing perpetrators we don’t do that. We call them perpetrators, abusers, or assign their profession, stockbroker, laborer etc. No gender assigned. What happens if we say he, men, husband when discussing the perpetrator. Assign a gender and it takes a more active approach and doesn’t hide accountability. For example notice the difference in the language below taken from a scenario presented at the conference:
                John beat Mary                                                
                Mary was beaten by John                            
                Mary was beaten                                             
                Mary was battered                                          
                Mary is a battered woman                            

What happened here? Focus and accountability moves away from John and Mary as the victim becomes the only focus. In the end, John is gone completely and we are only focused on Mary as the victim. I found this extremely powerful.

I left the workshop with a renewed sense of passion to do this work. I noticed I am looking at it differently and being more aware of my words. How do I speak of men’s violence against women? How am I playing a part in perpetuating the cycle of not holding him accountable for his violence? I encourage you to go to Mr. Katz’s website to learn more about his thoughts and what he has done to bring attention to the issue of men’s violence against women To learn more about what Hope House is doing or what you can do to get involved, visit our website:

Friday, October 18, 2013

So do you have Gutz?

Beauty Brands End Abuse Campaign

I would like to thank Beauty Brands for their help in fighting domestic violence and supporting Hope House. This annual campaign is a great way to bring attention to the issue and to have a call to action. Buy wonderful hair care products and help support a local domestic violence program. What could be better than that!

Visit Beauty Brands now through November 3rd for special savings during their End Abuse campaign. Take advantage of special savings and 100% of the proceeds will support local domestic violence shelter!

To learn more about the campaign and to get involved visit: