Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Physical Abuse vs. Fiscal Abuse

Most of the news about domestic violence focuses on physical abuse. But, not too many think of the hidden abuses that survivors and families face.

In some cases, fiscal – or financial – abuse can be just as debilitating for a domestic violence victim as physical abuse. The question, “why doesn’t she just leave” is often asked, and one of the answers to that question is finances.
·         Where will the survivor turn with no money?
·         If kids are involved, how will she provide for them if she does not have a job?
·         How can she apply for any mortgage or lease with damaged credit due to the abuser’s economic abuse?
These are questions that come up in 98 percent of abusive relationships. Economic abuse can take on different forms. It could be the abuser’s complete control over the finances, forcing the victim to ask for even a little money or as drastic as intentionally destroying the victim’s credit through credit charges or false claims.
In an article in Forbes Magazine earlier this year, a survivor describes her domestic violence relationship. While she was put on bedrest during her pregnancy, she quickly realized how much her husband was controlling the family finances. Spending more time at home, she started seeing credit card bills and eviction notices in the mail.
When she was able to go back to work, her husband went as far as calling her employer to find out exactly how much she was making. Things got progressively worse and escalated physically. In the end, she left him, but realized she had no economic knowledge. She applied for a job at a bank “on a whim” she says. Now, she is divorced, doing better financially and has a decent savings account.
Stories like this are not unlike those we hear from the survivors and families we help.
Just recently one survivor told Hope House supporters of a time when her husband became physically abusive after finding her secret stash of money she was slowly accumulating in a safe place so she could afford to leave with her children.
The stress of worrying about finances greatly restricts the victim from being able to escape. It destroys self-esteem because the survivor cannot provide for herself or children. And, it could even ruin the survivor’s financial future if her credit has been seriously damaged.
The economic impact of domestic violence is staggering. According to several studies, domestic violence costs the U.S., $8 billion annually in medical costs ($5.8 billion) and lost productivity ($2.5 billion).
The National Network to End Domestic Violence includes a list of examples of financial abuse on its website. Some include:
-          Not allowing the victim access to bank accounts
-          Withholding funds for the victim or children to obtain basic needs such as food and medicine
-          Stealing the victim’s identity, property or inheritance
-          Withholding money or giving “an allowance”
-          Filing false insurance claims
To view the full list, click here.
Tips to consider if you or someone you know is in a financially-abusive relationship:
-          Start acquiring all financial information for you and your family, including: birth certificates, bank statements, and other personal documents. Keep them with a friend or somewhere safe outside of the home
-          Get a copy of your credit report. You are able to get one credit report free of charge annually. Check with the three main credit entities (Equifax, Experian, Trans Union) for details
-          Find ways to earn a little cash on the side and have someone keep it safe for you
-          Work on your budget if you were to leave and plan accordingly
And lastly, if you have more questions, contact our hotline at 816-461-HOPE (4673).

If you would like to support survivors and families of domestic and financial abuse, check out the Purple Purse Challenge fundraising page at www.crowdrise.com/hopehouse3

Monday, September 14, 2015

Hope & All That Jazz 2015 attendees: ‘This was the best Jazz ever’

The deep red cloth was strewn from the ceiling. The white orchids in gold bowl centerpieces sat gracefully on the tables. The silent auction items were placed strategically on the display tables. The mouth-watering smell of the steak medallions and risotto filled the air. The festive music and laughs could be heard through the hall to the main lobby.
The 26th Annual Hope and All That Jazz was said to be the best Jazz ever.
“I’m just worried now how we top this in 2016,” said Stefanie Shanks, Hope House special events manager. “I’m ecstatic that the guests had such a great time. The music was great. Everyone loved the auction and bidding through their phones. The live auction was exciting. I couldn’t be more thrilled that everyone had a great time.”
The evening began with cocktails and appetizers during the silent auction period. The auction featured items such as sports memorabilia, artwork, food and wine, trips, a frame with two autographed photos of the legendary B.B. King, a grill master’s barbecue set, and much more. Attendees were able to walk around, having a great time visiting with friends rather than hovering over silent auction paper bid sheets.
“This year, we did mobile bidding,” said Shanks. “This allowed participants to go wherever they wanted during the silent auction, because all they needed was their smart phone. We received so much feedback about this, and we’ll definitely be doing it again next year.”
Once the silent auction was over, guests entered the ballroom, where dinner was served. The options for the evening were steak medallions with seafood cake and roasted tomato and peppers, or vegetarian risotto cake with spaghetti squash. Dessert consisted of a chocolate truffle mousse terrine with passion fruit crème brulee.
After dinner, the evening’s emcee, Kris Ketz of KMBC-TV9, welcomed everyone to the 26th annual benefit and turned it over to Hope and All That Jazz 2015 Chair Peter deSilva of UMB.
“Domestic violence of any kind is a stain on this and every other community in America,” said deSilva. “As a society it should be a top priority to eradicate domestic violence in all of its ugly forms. Given that we will unfortunately not likely eradicate domestic violence completely, the next best thing to do is to fully support those affected by it.”
DeSilva was then joined on stage by Hope House CEO MaryAnne Metheny, who introduced former Independence Mayor Barbara Potts. Metheny then awarded the Blue Springs Police Department with the annual Barbara Potts Award.
“The Blue Springs Police Department understands the seriousness of the crime of domestic violence and has contributed to the change in culture in how victims are treated and abusers are held accountable,” said Metheny. “In 2011, they agreed to participate in the Lethality Assessment Program, which provides a more comprehensive approach to how domestic violence incidents are handled on the scene.”
Once the award was presented to Blue Springs Police Chief Wayne McCoy and Domestic Violence Det. Anda Offenbacker, the evening’s keynote speaker provided her remarks on her own personal domestic violence relationship.
“I was very young – in my teens as a matter of fact – when I became a mother and got married,” said CiCi Rojas, president and CEO of the Central Exchange, and former Hope House board chairperson. “I found myself with three small children and caught in a very abusive marriage, very simply because of pride and wanting to provide a home for my children with two parents.”
Worried about their disappointment, Rojas hid the abuse and shame she felt from her parents and friends. Soon, her abusive husband would discover her intentions to leave and beat her to the point of unconsciousness.
“I knew I had to escape for me and my children,” she continued. “I had to regain my confidence and my self-worth. So, I set out to change my life. There are many women and children that benefit from Hope House. But, it’s not about the shelter and services so much as it is about the aspirational benefit, the renewal of confidence and self-esteem that ignites the desire to survive and find the power to thrive.”
Her moving speech brought tears to many in the room.
“It made a huge impact on everyone in attendance,” said Shanks. “When you have a keynote presenter who can show the true emotion in her story, it makes it easier for others to understand exactly what survivors and families are going through in their own homes.”
The evening’s festivities continued with Kansas City’s famous auctioneers, the Nigro Brothers. They encouraged all to participate in the Fund-A-Need segment, where attendees raised their bid numbers to fund services offered by Hope House.
Then, it was on to the live auction that included a puppy, a trip to a winery in Oregon, a stay in sunny Florida, a mink coat, dinner with Chiefs’ Quarterback Alex Smith, a diamond necklace and more.
“The Nigro Brothers always make the live auction fun,” Shanks continued. “This year, there was a lot of excitement with the diamond necklace and the puppy. I think what made the auction great this year was the variety of items. We certainly had something for everyone in attendance.”
Once the auction ended, it was time for the real fun to begin. KOKOMO played live music while patrons danced the night away on the dance floor that was embossed with the Hope House golden sun logo. Although some turned in early, others decided to stick around and close the ballroom down – proving even more that Jazz 2015 was one for the record books.
Overall, the event raised more than $370,000 that will benefit Hope House’s general operating budget. The domestic violence agency that offers Missouri’s most comprehensive services will provide safe shelter, outreach therapy, food, court advocacy and much more to survivors and families of domestic violence.
“Without our caring community growing Jazz each year, there is no way we would be able to serve the thousands of survivors and families that we do,” Metheny said. “I remember the day of personally putting together centerpieces in a small banquet hall for 300 people. Now, having over 600 people in attendance, yet seeing so many longtime friends, I know we’ll be serving this community for much longer.”

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

5 ideas for helping someone you suspect is in an abusive relationship

Throughout my 22-year
5 Tips To Help Someone In A Domestic Violence Relationship
career in the domestic violence field, I’ve seen almost anything you can imagine as it pertains to abuse. Being out in the community, I hear more people asking, “What do I do if I suspect someone is being abused?” Or, “What do I do if someone comes to me looking for help?” There is a social stigma associated with domestic violence, and sometimes people feel they are helping, but - although they mean well – the advice can hinder the survivor more. Below are five ideas for helping someone you suspect is being abused or who has come to you for help:

Believe them – Often family and friends are not aware that abuse is occurring in someone’s life, which results in survivors feeling alone and isolated. They may be working hard to keep the abuse from those they care about, which can result in them feeling as if they are living two lives. They may be hiding the abuse due to fear, shame, guilt, embarrassment or a variety of other reasons. When they decide to come forward and ask for help, one of the worst things people can do is say, “Oh he wouldn’t do that.”  Not believing a person is in a domestic violence situation can be devastating for that survivor and push him/her even further into isolation and feelings of shame and embarrassment.

Listen –In many cases, domestic violence survivors have no one to talk to or turn to for support. Abusers constantly shame and isolate their victims. Abusers don’t let their partners spend time with friends or family. This alienation reinforces point one and contributes to the survivor’s feelings of hopelessness and powerlessness.

Just listening can be life saving for that person experiencing abuse. The survivor may not be looking for help, just someone to be with; someone who will listen, believe them and not judge them. In some cases, this is the survivor’s way of thinking out-loud. One thing to remember when listening is that even though you may give advice, the decision is ultimately up to the survivor as to the best course of action to take. Multiple factors  go into the decision to leave or not to leave, and ultimately it is up to the survivor to make that decision, but he/she will still need support and a listening ear - whatever the decision. Research shows that it can take a person an average of seven times to leave a relationship before they are able to leave for good. So patience may be required.

Don’t offer ultimatums – Friends want what is best for each other. It is easy to think your relationship means more to a survivor/friend who seeks advice. However, it can be an extremely difficult decision for a survivor to take that step and leave. Do not force the friend into a decision to leave. Abuse is about power and control. Most likely, for a majority of the survivor’s relationship, she/he has been powerless to the control the abuser has over them. If you push a friend into an ultimatum to leave, you are one more person who is trying to take away the survivor’s power and make the decision for him/her.

Be ready with resources – As a supporter of Hope House, you already know we serve survivors and families who suffer from domestic violence. Our hotline is an easy number to remember – 816-461-HOPE (4673). You can direct them to our website – hopehouse.net. There, we have examples of warning signs, our hotline number and a listing of all our resources so they know exactly how we can help. We also offer support to family and friends. If you feel you need support, please call our hotline and we can talk with you about your needs around your family member or friend who is experiencing domestic violence.

Additionally, you can discuss having a safety plan. If the survivor has a friend or relative they can escape to in times of great fear, talk about this with them. Ask if they have an emergency kit with clothes, money or other necessities if she/he has to escape in a hurry. Talk about avoiding rooms with items that could be used as weapons. If there are weapons in the house, know where they are and avoid them if possible. Discuss possible ways to get support at work if the abuser is harassing them at the office. How can the survivor change his/her use of technology? Some ideas include changing passwords to cell phones and email or on-line accounts, changing on-line accounts to one with only the survivor on it, getting a new cell phone or new computer, checking to see if there are monitoring devices on cell phones, on-line accounts, computers and vehicles. These are just a few ideas you can offer. You can check out our Safety Plan Tips for a more comprehensive list of items to consider in safety planning. Each situation is unique, so it is important to look at all factors and it is ok to be creative in creating solutions for safety.

Be patient – Again, do not be discouraged if nothing happens after your conversation. Fear, children, finances and many other factors can constrain the survivor’s ability to leave. You may not be aware of all the factors in the relationship, so don’t jump to any conclusions that the survivor doesn’t “really” want your help or isn’t listening. Help the survivor document, be a friend and listen, help create a safety plan and be ready to help if they decide to leave and need your help.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Lesson Learned From Clinton - Stop The Victim Blaming

With the tragic loss of Sandra Sutton (in Clinton, Missouri) due to domestic violence, there has been more discussion about domestic violence, how does it happen, why does it happen, why don’t people leave, and why don’t they call the police. There are so many questions because domestic violence is so complicated. There are no easy answers and the answers can challenge our way of thinking and shatter our vision of a peaceful and happy existence.
If someone has never experienced domestic violence or been exposed to it, the thought that someone who is supposed to love another person could hurt them in a violent way is hard to understand and wrap your arms around. The thought that someone could be kept in a box for months is something that even those of us who work in the field of domestic violence have to take a break and regroup. It takes your breath away as you imagine that horror. It made me sick to my stomach to imagine the horror she experienced. It made me cry.
That type of act is hideous and unthinkable. But yet, it happened here in our state of Missouri. This is the case we know about. Unfortunately, it is probably happening to someone else and we just don’t know it.
But why does it happen? Why does a relationship get so out of control?
That is where the difficulty in understanding comes in. There are so many reasons. But, even when you hear the reasons, it is hard to make sense of it. Even if you understand the origin and the thought process, coming to terms with such heinous acts is difficult.  How does a person get so out of control that he does something like that to his partner? Then, the even more unthinkable happens; she gets away and he hunts her down and murders her and her 17-year-old son.
How does someone do that? How does someone become so filled with hate and rage that they can do that? The answer is so simple, yet very complex – power and control. He had to have complete power over his partner, he went to unimaginable lengths to control her, and when he lost that control he committed the ultimate act of domestic violence: murder to regain that power and control. If he couldn’t control her and have complete power over her, then no one else would either, especially her. He wouldn’t allow her to make her own decisions and to live her life the way she wanted. He made sure of that when he murdered her and her son.
The important thing to remember is, it was not her fault!
She is not responsible for being murdered or kept in a box. She escaped and he tracked her down and he killed her. She is not to be blamed for this horrible act. It doesn’t matter if she called the police or didn’t call the police, or if she filed for a protection order or didn’t file for one. It was NOT her fault.
We cannot blame the victim for the things that happen to them. We must focus the attention on the perpetrator of the violence and the crime. But yet, somehow in domestic violence situations we blame the victim. We look at what she did or didn’t do and make it somehow her fault instead of looking at the perpetrator and placing the responsibility there and there alone.
If we are ever going to end domestic violence, it will be when we hold perpetrators accountable and break the cycle of violence. We must take responsibility as a society that domestic violence is allowed to happen. Whether it is a push, punch or kept locked-up in a box; it is wrong and must be stopped. We must work together to address the issue, we must shift the conversation from why didn’t she leave, why didn’t she call the police, get a protection order, to violence is not okay, and we must stop it. We must not allow our conversations to continue the abuse of the victim by blaming her, and we must all agree that violence is never the answer, violence is not okay.
If you want to learn more about domestic violence and the resources that are available and how you can help, please visit www.hopehouse.net. If you are in need of help please call the metro domestic violence hotline: 816-HOTLINE.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Black and Veatch engineer makes World of Difference for local domestic violence shelter

What started more than 20 years ago with the donation of two outdated appliances has blossomed into one Black and Veatch employee making a world of a difference for one local domestic violence shelter.

Brent Rupp, a project electrical engineer at Black and Veatch, has donated his time, goods and financially to Kansas City metro domestic violence shelter, Hope House.

Now, through Rupp’s dedication to helping the non-profit, Black and Veatch Building a World of Difference Foundation awarded Hope House a $5,000 grant to help alleviate the negative effects of domestic violence and inform the public about the issue.

“Hope House has always been appreciative of any help they receive,” said Rupp. “It makes it a real joy to help in anyway. So, I’m very happy to be able to present the donation to Hope House from Black and Veatch’s Building a World of Difference Foundation.”

Rupp stated that throughout his involvement with the non-profit, it is the positive attitudes of the staff and volunteers that keep him coming back to help and made him want to do more through the Black and Veatch Building a World of Difference Foundation.

“We are so grateful for supporters like Brent,” said MaryAnne Metheny, CEO of Hope House. “His volunteerism and dedication serves as encouragement for our team. The fact that he’s taken his efforts that extra mile and acquired this grant shows his commitment to the issue, and the survivors who need our services.”

Rupp has been a financial supporter of Hope House after donating the kitchen appliances. And, for the past several years, Rupp and his wife began volunteering. They have participated in Hope House’s Starlight and Chilifest fundraisers. And, his wife, Mary, volunteered her own time and encouraged their daughter’s Girl Scout Troop to donate time at the shelter as well, while Mary served as troop leader.

“When I was looking to donate the appliances, I didn’t know Hope House existed,” said Rupp. “But, my friend encouraged me to work with them, and since then, Hope House has always been a place we support. The relationship has really strengthened over the years.”

And, it strengthened despite a year on a different continent. Between 2011 and 2012, Rupp was in South Africa working on a Black and Veatch coal plant project. It did not take long for him to reach back out to Hope House upon his return. After making it back to the States, he began working with the Lee’s Summit Knights of Columbus and served as an acting spokesman for Hope House.

“It is my hope that, in addition to the help the donation will provide to Hope House and its mission, we may also raise domestic violence awareness and the role Hope House plays to combat the issue,” said Rupp. “I look forward to further involvement with Hope House and hope to build a relationship with Black & Veatch and the professionals who may not be aware of Hope House and the good they do.”

The Black and Veatch Building a World of Difference Foundation was established with the aim of providing a platform for the company and its professionals in supporting a variety of philanthropic organizations like Hope House and other programs worldwide.

“Last year, Hope House provided more than 41,000 safe nights in shelter, answered more than 5,400 domestic abuse hotline calls and provided therapy to more than 420 survivors,” Metheny said. “The foundation grant will go a long way to ensure we continue to help the survivors who have taken that courageous first step to leave an abusive relationship.”

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Top 4 Reasons to Attend Hope House's Margarita Ball 2015

Friday, April 24 from 7pm to 11pm
At Club 1000 - 1000 Broadway, KCMO 64105

Hope House’s Margarita Ball is one of KC’s premier dance parties where you can do good while having fun!

Party-goers will enjoy unlimited margaritas, cocktails and tapas, a silent auction with high-valued items, three floors of entertainment (basement is VIP area only – check sponsorship opportunities for more information). And, back by popular demand, DJ Ashton Martin will be spinning tunes and Lost Wax will be playing live music through the night.

Find out more by visiting www.hopehouse.net/MB2015

Friday, March 6, 2015

Hope House survivors smile big for volunteer dentist during National Dentists Day

After working more than 33 years as a dentist in Russellville, Arkansas, Dr. Dan Ryder just couldn’t stay away from the practice.
Ryder has been donating time to the women in Hope House for the last four years. Utilizing his experience and time in retirement, he helps survivors with their most immediate dental needs.
“One of my favorite stories to tell about Dr. Ryder is when one of the women in shelter came in for an appointment,” said MaryAnne Metheny, CEO of Hope House. “She was in so much pain. When Dr. Ryder was finished with the surgery, a week later she kept saying ‘I never knew what normal was supposed to feel like.”
And, that is what Ryder gives the survivors at Hope House – normal.
“Knowing that I’m able to provide good dental services to those who may not have these services available to them is very rewarding,” said Ryder. “It’s rewarding because we are able to show the clients that people care unconditionally.”
Ryder, who retired from his practice in Arkansas, moved to Lee’s Summit to be closer to his two children and four grandkids who live in the Kansas City area. Now he’s able to spend more time with them, playing golf, camping and backpacking through California every year. But, there is one more thing Ryder enjoys, and that is helping charitable causes, he says.
Not only does Ryder volunteer at Hope House, but he has also opened a free clinic in Arkansas before he moved. And, he volunteers at the Medical Mission for Christ in Camdenton, Missouri.
What brought him to Hope House was a series of coincidences, he said.
“I was on a mission trip in Jamaica through my church,” said Ryder. “While there, the organizer brought in some pharmacy students. I asked how I could get involved.”
From there, Ryder was directed to speak with Dr. Bridget McCandless of Independence. About three months later, she connected Ryder to Metheny who had been working with another area dentist, Dr. Ross Morrison, to start a dental clinic in the Hope House’s Independence shelter. After receiving a grant to purchase dental equipment, Metheny was in need of a dentist.
“When Dr. Ryder contacted me, we were so thrilled to have his experience and enthusiasm,” said Metheny. “He has done some amazing things for the women here over the last four years.  It’s funny because after his visits, you can always hear stories around the halls of shelter about the relief the women have, thanks to his help. We’re truly grateful to have his help.”

Ryder appreciates the facilities and the opportunity to provide immediate relief to the clients at Hope House as he focuses on survivors’ most immediate needs (i.e. fillings, root canals, etc.). But, he has also has a desire to perform dental cleanings. He asked any dental hygienists interested in volunteering contact Brandi Bair, Hope House volunteer coordinator, at 816-257-9342.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

3 Tips For Supporting Survivor-Employees in the Workplace

It can be a tough task to deal with domestic violence in the workplace. We’ll be the first to admit it is not an easy or fun topic to discuss. But, as statistics show, it is a necessity.

According to studies, domestic violence victims lose 8 million days of paid work annually. The cost of those days exceeds $8.3 billion a year, according to the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology.

Further complicating matters for survivors, between 21 and 60 percent of them lose their jobs due to the violence they experience. And, even more disheartening is the fact that more than 140 women were murdered at work by their abuser in one five-year period.

So, what does this mean for employers? How can you safely manage the impact in your workplace?

First, and foremost, businesses can partner with domestic violence agencies to provide workplace seminars, trainings or health fairs. Training in the workplace can improve the understanding of domestic violence at work. While knowledge and education are good to have, multiple trainings or exposures to domestic violence information in the workplace will change behaviors.

Those behavioral changes are more aptly to happen if a domestic violence policy is also in place. Domestic violence policies can protect survivors if they include time-off for multiple court dates. Often, judges will extend court dates several times if the affected individuals do not show up in court. This requires the survivor-employee to take off work more days than permitted to move forward with potential restraining orders, divorce or custody cases.

These policies can be promoted in writing or poster form next to other required federal or state workplace posters.

But, taking the policy one-step further is when an employer knows of the employee’s abuse. Having a support network at the office can be an asset to any survivor. Other than encouraging help with proper resources, employers can also offer employee assistance programs, sometimes called EAPs.

If the survivor-employee has confided her abuse with another employee she is comfortable with, they may establish a code word to signal the abuse. If the employee calls-in sick and says, “My throat is tickling again,” or “Johnny has a teacher meeting today,” the responding employee can document the abuse signal.

Although such signals are used on occasion, employees can also have distress signals for immediate emergencies. If the survivor-employee is concerned for her immediate safety, she can call work and provide a distress signal established with a colleague, alerting the colleague to contact law enforcement.

These three tips can positively change the way survivor-employees work. Not only will the business experience greater productivity, but they will have a more loyal employee.

For other suggestions on domestic violence policies or hosting training sessions, employers are encouraged to contact Hope House at 816-461-4188 or visit our website hopehouse.net

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

New HHYP Board Member has a connection to Hope House mission

The Hope House Young Professionals Board is proud to welcome Carina Criger to the HHYP Board.

Carina is a card risk management officer at UMB Bank. As a board member of Hope House Young Professionals, she hopes to raise public awareness and give back to the community.

That drive comes from a personal experience dating back just a few years.

“My journey in learning about domestic violence is still rather new. I grew up in a small town where everyone knew everyone’s family,” said Carina. “In 2011, however, the world became a scarier place. Our friend, classmate, and valedictorian of our high school - the girl we had all grew up with since preschool - was killed by her boyfriend.”

Domestic violence was something that happened in the “big city,” Carina graduated with 40 fellow students. The town of less than-2,000 was rocked by the event.

“This event opened my eyes to the challenges and difficulties women face each and every day,” said Carina. “The reality that domestic violence can happen to all types of individuals from all different backgrounds became more than just apparent.”

After graduating, Carina attended Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas where she earned a B.A degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Accounting and Finance. She joined the UMB team and enjoys spending time with friends and family, cooking, reading, attending sporting events, and playing recreational volleyball.

But, Carina says domestic violence is something she cares about greatly.

“Groups like the HHYP provide the support, resources, and refuge to assist these women in overcoming these obstacles,” Carina said. “Each little bit of assistance is going to someone who faces similar struggles that my friend Laura did. I look forward to doing what I can to assist the HHYP in their mission.” 

Read more of Hope House's latest news at www.hopehouse.net 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

KC Rotarians put service before self by assisting Hope House

Independence Shelter Director Hannah Peterson is proud to
present the new milk cooler and  table (foreground) provided
by the KC Plaza Rotary.
This month, the Kansas City Plaza Rotary Club awarded Hope House, Missouri’s largest domestic violence agency, $2,000 for the purposes of improving the Independence-based shelter’s outdated kitchen equipment.

The Plaza Rotary offered the $2,000 as a match after Rotary District 6040 – of which the KC Plaza Rotary is a member – provided a $1,900 donation to Hope House in December.

"Our Club is a dedicated and long-time supporter of Hope House,” said Bob Merrigan, president of the KC Plaza Rotary. “Their mission is in-line with that of the Plaza Rotary in terms of protecting and saving women and children around the world. We are very happy to be able to support them financially.”

Every year, Rotarians benefit projects around the globe that are focused in the areas of promoting peace, fighting disease, providing clean water, saving mothers and children, supporting education, and growing local economies.

The Plaza Rotary will also help complete the project through volunteer labor. Rotarians will volunteer time cleaning the kitchen and dining area at the Independence shelter Saturday.

Hope House leadership discussed their thoughts on the donation.

“We are proud and honored to be able to partner with the Plaza Rotary through this endeavor,” said Hope House CEO MaryAnne Metheny. “We want to express our deepest gratitude for the opportunity to benefit from the Rotary putting service above self.”

Kitchen enhancements are expected to be completed by the end of this month, ensuring more than 50 women and children utilizing the services at the Independence location to eat in a safe and sanitary dining environment,” said Metheny.

In addition to Hope House’s emergency safe shelter program, the agency also operates a 24-hour hotline, a safe visitation program for court-ordered non-custodial parents, group and individual therapy for survivors of domestic violence, and an outreach program to educate hospital and law enforcement personnel in Kansas City.

For more information about KC Plaza Rotary Club please visit http://kcplazarotary.org/. For more information about Hope House, please call 816-257-4188 or visit www.hopehouse.net. For the 24-hour Hotline, please call 816-461-HOPE (4673).

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Annual bra exchange increases customer support, awareness of DV

Ten years ago, Terry Levine opened clair de lune lingerie boutique in Overland Park. Shortly after opening, Levine saw an opportunity to give back to the community.
She investigated local charities in need and found Hope House, a domestic violence advocate agency who serves survivors in the Kansas City area.
“It seems that domestic violence awareness has elevated over the last several years,” said Levine. “I had a product I could put in someone’s hand that they could use, since - in most cases - women leave with just the clothes they have on. A bra is not something people think of donating or reselling. They are really an overlooked necessity.”  
Between January 8 and 25, Levine’s customers are able to bring in gently-used bras in exchange for a $15 credit on the purchase of a new bra. The exchange has gained support over the years from her customer base.
“Customers love the idea,” said Levine. “The exchange takes on a whole new meaning because it’s a community effort. Every year, we collect more and more.”
During the exchange, clair de lune experiences its busiest time of year, Levine said.
“Our customers have started looking for the event,” said Levine. “It’s become a time of year the women can focus on themselves again. The holidays are spent on time for others. So this time of year allows our customers to help themselves and a great cause.”
Once the bras are collected, Hope House staff  pick up the bras and sort them for distribution to clients in our shelter and outreach services, said Hope House CEO MaryAnne Metheny.
“This has been such a great collection drive over the years,” said Metheny. “We receive bras of all sizes, so it is so helpful to our clients to know they will be able to find something that fits their unique needs.”
Hope House has been operating for 32 years and has been successful in part due to local partnerships with businesses, faith-based groups and charitable organizations.
“Clair de lune began this drive 10 years ago and it has been wonderful to partner with them, we are grateful to them for selecting our agency as the recipients of their bra exchange” said Metheny. “They are a great example for any business who wants to drive customer engagement and raise awareness for domestic violence or any other local charity.”

For information on clair de lune, visit http://www.clairdelunekc.com. For information on Hope House, visit www.hopehouse.net. Or, for ways to get your business, employees or customers engaged with Hope House, contact Brandi Bair, Hope House volunteer coordinator at bbair@hopehouse.net

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Volunteerism answers multiple employee engagement questions

According to the 2013 Gallup poll, engagement is the word that may overwhelm businesses.

Only 29 percent of the American and Canadian workforce claims to be “engaged” with their employer. Of the remaining 71 percent, 18 percent claim to be “actively disengaged,” costing the U.S. economy between $450 billion and $550 billion each year.

Although business experts disagree on causes, business leaders are struggling to retain employees, according to a 2014 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends study. It suggests that 78 percent of business leaders rate retention and engagement as an “urgent” or “important” need. Businesses and HR professionals are paying close attention to what their employees are saying.

The website Glassdoor.com offers some input on what employees are saying about their employers. The site has ranked the top 25 places to work based on culture and values.

Topping the list is Twitter. Last March, the company hired Caroline Barlerin to be the head of Twitter for Good. When Barlerin took the job, she wrote a column after the first week in her new post.

“It’s exciting to be embarking on this journey and see what positive impact we can have both locally and around the world,” said Barlerin. “I’m pleased to learn about all these brights spots and know there’s still a lot more the company can achieve in terms of outreach and giving.”

Later that year, Barlerin and her team led a company-wide effort in November called #FridayForGood. On November 7, more than 700 Twitter employees volunteered at more than 50 different projects across San Francisco and the surrounding area.

“Whether they donated blood at Twitter HQ or encouraged kids to read and write by acting out plays at 826 Valencia, our employees are passionate about making a difference in the lives of others,” said Barlerin.

It just so happens volunteerism ranks in the top 10 employee engagement best practices, according to hppy Enterprises, a consulting firm dedicated to employee happiness.
Experts in the philanthropy field agree, touting volunteerism and its ability to raise employee engagement while developing leaders.

“Most people want to be able to feel they’re doing something good with their time and their lives,” said volunteer activist and author Scott Huntington. “Volunteerism offers a great way for people to remember just how valuable their time is, especially when it is used for the benefit of others. It could translate to people being more willing to pitch in and go above and beyond what their job titles dictate they should do while on the clock at work.”

Huntington goes on to discuss the benefits of volunteerism and leadership development, something other workplace experts say is the true cause of poor employee engagement.

“Brick-and-mortar companies can’t love or hate people; so at the core, employees rarely have feelings of love or hate for corporate entities,” said Scott Carbonara, author of Manager’s Guide to Employee Engagement. “No, employees reserve that level of emotion for individuals - like their supervisors or managers. Disengaged employees act like they’ve been hurt - as if something has been done to them personally. In fact, the leading cause of attrition and disengagement is poor leadership.”

Huntington encourages businesses to volunteer in order to get managers leadership experience. He states, “Employees who volunteer are also willing to frequently lead others, even if they are not in supervisory positions.”

He provides three explanations for this development concept:

  • Volunteerism provides new perspectives and allows volunteers to become more in tune with things outside of the workspace
  • Volunteerism allows people to discover hidden talents
  • Those new skill sets build confidence that colleagues see and want to follow
Volunteerism promotes solutions to actively engage employees and build leaders who employees will choose to like or dislike. Either way, it answers Carbonara’s concern above and keeps employees feeling like they are making a contribution in and out of the office, driving happiness and innovation – two traits the Gallup poll states are not present in “actively disengaged” employees.

Businesses looking to engage employees and develop future leaders should contact local charities or visit the Twitter article above for more ideas.

Hope House is one Kansas City-based option. The domestic violence shelter is Missouri’s largest domestic violence advocate organization and assists survivors of abuse at two locations. For ways to get involved visit www.hopehouse.net/business-involvement