Archive for 2015

Urgent Needs for our Domestic Violence Clients

Urgent Needs for our Domestic Violence Clients

Domestic violence affects women, men and children in our country, state and local communities. While the most important way to support domestic violence is to educate yourself and others on the realities of this issue, there are tangible items needed to help victims of domestic violence in crisis. Below are some of Compass Center’s supply needs. Please donate to our cause today.

One $20 gas card donation:
– helps a client get to court in Hillsborough to file their domestic violence protective order.
– enables a client to attend their court hearings related to their domestic violence protective order.
– enables a client to travel to Hillsborough to attend court to follow through on criminal charges against their abuser.
– provides transportation for a victim to get to and from a medical provider or the emergency room following an incident of abuse in which there was physical trauma.

One $20 grocery card donation:
– pays for dinner and breakfast for a victim and child who have just entered emergency shelter placement.
– allows a victim to buy diapers and formula for her infant when she is going into shelter and does not have access to money due to financial abuse.
– pays for children’s snacks as they wait on their parent who is receiving domestic violence services.
– enables a victim to have food to eat the day they are fleeing their abusive partner, seeking shelter and working with the court system.

One used cell phone donation:
– can be traded in for career, legal and financial program funding for victims in transition

Court Advocacy: Through an Intern’s Eyes, Molly Kirkpatrick

Court Advocacy: Through an Intern’s Eyes, Molly Kirkpatrick

Over the past couple of months, I have had the opportunity to go to domestic violence court in Hillsborough and serve as a court advocate on behalf of Compass Center. This role involves supporting victims of domestic violence through the court process by providing emotional support through what can sometimes be a re-traumatizing experience. Often times, victims may have to see their abusers in the courtroom, sometimes re-live their experiences by having to tell their story in a hearing, or be asked to provide sufficient proof to a judge and a room full of strangers to indicate that they are fearful and deserving of protection. Most of the time this whole process is stretched out over the course of a long, dragged out day, and most likely subsequent long days. The whole process can be a stressful and overwhelming experience for our clients, to say the very least.

In addition to the emotional stress the legal process can produce, we assist our clients through the numerous other barriers they may face in their court processes. One of the most significant of these barriers for victims is the very limited availability of low-cost or pro-bono legal counsel in the Orange County area. One might think, given the large population of law students and lawyers in the area, that it would be easy to find legal representation; however, this is not the case. Legal Aid of North Carolina is the only low-cost resource available to clients who are unable to afford a private attorney, however, due to the overwhelming need for Legal Aid’s services their office is burdened with many more cases than they are able to take. The court process is complicated and nuanced and best handled with the guidance of an experienced attorney. Given the difficulty our clients face in finding representation at a manageable cost, many of our clients have to proceed with no legal support through their court process, putting them at a possible disadvantage.

Another barrier that many of our clients face in their court process is transportation to and from the Hillsborough courthouse. Compass Center does all that it can to assist clients through this complication that often arises, which can sometimes require innovative and creative problem solving. Some of the ways that Compass Center has been able to support clients through this barrier include helping with bus passes or providing bus schedules, working with clients to find rides with family members or friends, or sometimes even coordinating cab services to and from court.

The combination of all of these barriers for our clients indicate how stressful, re-traumatizing, and alienating the experience can be for victims and highlights the need and importance of Compass Center’s Court Advocacy Program in providing support. Although the Court Advocacy Program cannot provide legal advice for clients or assist with the gap in legal services they face, it can help clients in feeling more supported on many levels. In addition to supporting clients through their court processes, Compass Center Court Advocacy Program works to connect clients at court to additional Compass Center services including support groups, safety planning and connecting clients with resources in the community. The Court Advocacy Program is also continuing to do its part in advocating for more resources for low-cost legal services in the area. I am grateful to have had an insider’s perspective on the happenings of domestic violence court proceedings and now feel even more passionate about advocating for victim services and supporting victims in any way I can.

Men in our Community

Men in our Community

Volunteers are vital to the delivery of services at Compass Center for Women and Families. With the assistance of 200+ volunteers, we are able to serve 6,000 women, men and children in our community.  Issues surrounding career, legal, and financial needs and goals and domestic violence affect everyone. As an organization serving 90% women, we are eager to provide services to more men and to work with more male volunteers.

We are grateful for the male volunteers that have engaged with the agency to help deliver services. Men serve in many capacities at Compass Center. Below are examples of the work of some of our male volunteers:

Mark Phillips previously served on the Finance Committee for The Women’s Center. As vice president of Jacob’s Capital, a boutique investment banking firm in Chapel Hill, Mark brings a high level of expertise to Compass Center’s Board of Directors. Mark is currently treasurer of our board and has held this position since 2012.

John Miskey has led Compass Center’s monthly family law workshops for the past two years. As a partner with Bagwell Holt Smith, PA, John also participates in our legal information services appointments, offering a free 15-minute phone conversation to dozens monthly to discuss individual legal situations. John joined the Compass Center Board of Directors in July of 2014 and is currently leading the Executive Director search committee.

Jay Miller has volunteered as a financial counselor with Compass Center since 1999. As a financial counselor, Jay meets one-on-one with individuals to help them budget, meet financial goals and develop businesses. Jay also serves as secretary of the Henderson Street House Foundation, which provides our client services facility at 210 Henderson St. rent free.

Cole van de Water began serving as a hotline advocate in 2011. As an advocate, Cole meets in-person with clients in crisis, as well as takes phone calls to offer emotional support, help individuals complete domestic violence protective orders and provide information and referral when appropriate.

Bob Pleasants trained as a hotline advocate and community educator and later joined staff. More recently, Bob has volunteered his time to lead a session on the socio-ecological model of domestic violence for new hotline advocates during our fall and spring volunteer trainings.

Having a male presence in the Center is important to us, as we want anyone to feel comfortable walking through our doors. In addition to providing support to our clients through their involvement, our male volunteers are then able to go back and spread the word of our services and educate others. If you know a man who could contribute to Compass Center by volunteering or using our services, please visit www.compassctr.org or call us at 919-968-4610.CC Indy Photo

Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives: Lee Smith

Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives: Lee Smith

IMG_3078Lee Smith

Lee Smith is an accomplished fiction author who often incorporates the stories of southern women into her novels and short stories. Through her writing, she advances the story of women and ensures that our story is part of our nation’s history. Lee has also hosted numerous fundraising events for the Carolina Women’s Center and Compass Center. As a key performer in the 2013 Evening of Story and Song, Lee helped raise nearly $15,000 to support Compass Center programs and services. To learn more about Lee, click here. Thank you Lee!

Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives: Ora DeKornfeld

Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives: Ora DeKornfeld

oraOra DeKornfeld

Ora DeKornfeld, a recent graduate from UNC-Chapel Hill, is a passionate filmmaker who captures the stories of women in a beautiful and empowering way. Her videos showcase the strength of women, and she graciously uses her talents to make the stories of women known. To learn more about Ora or see her videos, click here. Thank you Ora!

Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives: Vimala Rajendran

Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives: Vimala Rajendran

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Vimala Rajendran

Vimala Rajendran is the executive chef at Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe in Chapel Hill. Vimala guarantees an “everybody eats” policy to ensure that anyone who is hungry can eat at her restaurant, even if they can’t afford it. As a survivor of domestic violence herself, Vimala provides space in her restaurant for women’s advocacy groups to meet because she is passionate about stopping domestic violence. Vimala was also integral in the development of Martha’s Day, Compass Center’s annual fundraiser held on July 8th to honor victims and survivors of domestic violence. To learn more about Vimala and her restaurant, click here. Thank you Vimala for providing ways for women to share their stories!

What to bring to your VITA appointment

What to bring to your VITA appointment:

Bring all the documents listed below, as applicable to your tax situation:

  1. Photo ID, Social Security Cards & birthdates, or ITIN Letter for everyone named on return
  2. Copies of 2014 federal and state tax returns
  3. All documents regarding income received in 2015: W-2 forms, social security income, pension, unemployment, retirement income, other work forms showing earnings, listing of all cash income
  4. If you are self-employed and eligible, bring receipts for expenses and statements of income.
  5. Interest and dividend statements from banks and investments (Forms 1099)
  6. Home sold in 2015: All records of home sales, including closing statements for original purchase and sale of your home
  7. Stock sales in 2015: All records of stock sales and the date and price of original purchase
  8. Dollar totals by category for medical expenses (doctor, dentist, hospital, prescriptions, parking and miles driven to doctor/dentist)
  9. Itemization of charitable donations (cash and non-cash)
  10. List of volunteer mileage
  11. Amounts paid for day care or afterschool care and provider’s identifying tax number
  12. Education Credits: 1098T statement along with receipts for books, computer & Internet charges. Bring statement from your college about expenses.
  13. Receipts for mortgage interest, personal property tax, real estate tax, vehicle tax
  14. Form(s) 1095 Affordable Health Care Insurance Statement from the Marketplace and if you have dependent(s), bring ALL their income information.
  15. Both spouses must be present to sign joint returns
  16. Bank routing & account numbers such as on a check for direct deposit of eligible refund
  17. Phone number where you can be reached day and night; email address, if available
  18. Any and all information you receive from the IRS

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)

Compass Center for Women and Families is once again offering FREE income tax assistance through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. This year our VITA program will be held at the Chapel Hill Public Library, located at 100 Library Drive. Click here for eligibility and appointment information, or call our office at 919-968-4610. Please do not call the library.

The VITA program is staffed by IRS trained and certified volunteers to help low to moderate income individuals and families avoid preparation fees and maximize their tax credits. For more information on this year’s VITA program, click here.

Click here for information from the North Carolina Department of Revenue on the filing status of same-sex partners.

For the 2013 VITA assistance period Compass Center helped nearly 300 taxpayers with tax preparation and filing. Clients came from 14 different states and 16 different countries.  With this service Compass Center staff and VITA volunteers helped return approximately $350K back to the Orange County community.

 

Winter Support Group Offerings

Winter Support Group Offerings

Art of Healing Workshop for Survivors of Domestic Violence This Group is offered on the third Saturday of most months. Survivors of intimate partner abuse are invited to participate in these afternoons of art-making, processing, and community. Participants will be gently led through easy art and writing activities with a focus on expression, hope, healing, and strengths. No previous art-making or writing experience is required. Childcare can be offered upon request.

Domestic Violence Support Group: This 8-week group is open to women who have experienced or are currently experiencing abuse including emotional, verbal, economic, sexual, or physical abuse. Topics discussed include dynamics of domestic violence, the relationship between thoughts and feelings, boundaries, managing emotions, self-esteem, and self-care. The group is free. A screening interview is required to determine if the group is a good fit at the present time. Child care can be offered as needed. The next group will begin in January 2015.

Divorce and Separation Support Group: This 8-week group is open to women who have experienced or are contemplating separation and/or divorce. The group will address common issues that women face during this process such as grief, loss, anger, self-esteem, anxiety, depression, legal and financial concerns, parenting/co-parenting issues, and managing change. The focus of the group will be to provide support, encouragement, and information in a safe, nurturing, and confidential environment. A screening interview is required to determine if the group is a good fit at the present time. There is a $40 fee associated with this group, but can be waived as needed. Child care is offered upon request. The next group will begin in February 2015.

Spanish Language Domestic Violence Support Group: This 6-week group is open to Spanish-speaking women who have experienced or are currently experience abuse including emotional, verbal, economic, sexual, or physical abuse. Topics discussed include dynamics of domestic violence, the relationship between thoughts and feelings, boundaries, managing emotions, self-esteem, and self-care. The group is free. A screening interview is required to determine if the group is a good fit at the present time. Child care can be offered as needed. The next group will begin in February 2015. Please contact Claire, our Director of Latino Services, for more information: 919-929-7122 or latinoadvocate@compassctr.org. This group is being offered jointly with the Orange County Rape Crisis Center.

Self-Esteem Support Group: This 8-week group is open to women who want to work on building their own self-esteem and encouraging others in doing the same through discussion, writing, and expressive arts. The focus of the group will be to provide support, encouragement, and information in a safe, nurturing, non-judgmental, and confidential environment. A screening interview is required to determine if the group is a good fit at the present time. Screenings for this group are on-going. The next group will begin in March 2015.

Survivor-Led Writing Support Group: This 8-week group facilitated by survivors for survivors of domestic violence is being offered through a grant from the Orange County Arts Commission. The group will strive to create a safe place for writing, sharing and exploring different ways of using writing in the service of healing. A screening interview may be required to join the group. The group will begin in late Spring 2015.

If you are interested in any of the groups above, please contact the Support Group Coordinator at 919-929-7122 or groups@compassctr.org

Winter/Spring Volunteer Opportunities

Winter/Spring Volunteer Opportunities

Compass Center is accepting applications for the following volunteer positions! Below is a list of our various positions. Click here to complete an application.

Domestic Violence Hotline Advocates
Hotline advocates assist survivors of domestic and interpersonal violence. We need men and women who are available for daytime shifts, either from 9-1 or 1-5, or overnight shifts on weekdays or weekends. Spanish-speakers are encouraged to apply. A 42-hour comprehensive training program is required for all hotline volunteers.

Spanish-speaking Interpreters/Translators
Our Spanish-speaking interpreters/translators assist with the translation of educational and outreach materials, client affidavits, and/or website content, as well as provide interpreting for our advocates as they provide services to our Spanish-speaking clients. Interpreters must attend a 10-hour training.

First Response Volunteers (FRVs)
First Response Volunteers’ primary responsibility is to act as a first contact to individuals who call or walk into Compass Center. First Response Volunteers offer information and referral advice and provide a welcoming and helpful atmosphere while helping clients access the Center’s programs and services.

Start Strong Facilitators
Start Strong is Compass Center´s primary teen dating violence prevention program offered to 6th and 8th grade health education classrooms in the Chapel Hill/Carrboro school district middle schools. Over the course of two 50-minute classroom sessions, this domestic violence primary prevention programming discusses bullying, bystander intervention, unhealthy relationships, abusive relationships, and developing healthy relationships.

For more information, please contact Linda Chamiec-Case, Director of Education Programs at resources@compassctr.orgor Susan Friedman, Director of Domestic Violence Crisis Services at dvvolunteers@compassctr.org.

Areas of Support

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