Outsider Finds Community with Teens Climb High
Lily was recommended to Teens Climb High as a sixth grader. She was dealing with a history of abuse and neglect, and had witnessed domestic violence in her own home. She had been recently adopted by her foster mother, and was struggling academically. Lily grew to love the weekly group sessions at Teens Climb High. She grew especially close with another TCH participant, someone who also seemed to not fit in with a lot of other sixth graders, and began to spend time together outside of TCH. Lily participated in TCH’s community service learning project at a senior center and loved it so much she did not want to leave when the work was complete. She asked if she could continue helping out there. On the last day of TCH for sixth grade, Lily talked about how much her self-esteem had improved because of this program and the support she gets from the leaders and the other students. Lily is planning to go on vacation this summer with her new friend’s family.
Financial Counseling Key to Exit from Abusive Situation
For years, The Women’s Center has held an art show as our annual fundraiser. We have continued this event as a merged organization, and gathered Friday, March 8, 2013, for this annual celebration. Women artists from across the region donated their work, and we were proud to include the work of one of our former clients. She donated four pieces that illustrate her successful journey to free herself from 35 years of emotional and financial abuse at the hands of her ex-husband. She is living independently now, thanks in part to the targeted financial counseling she received at Compass Center.
Self-Improvement Sets Examples for Kids
Maria had always dreamed of buying her first home, but was burdened by debt. Her Disability income was not enough to pay the bills for herself and her nine children. Referred by a local housing organization to Compass Center for Women and Families, Maria soon joined the Financial Coaching and Support program. With other participants, she attended weekly financial workshops for two months then each met individually each quarter for a year to chart their progress with a financial counselor. Each participant was invited to place an empty frame on the wall at home and envision their completed picture. Maria was inspired by this challenge, and learned and developed new financial skills, and perhaps, more importantly, identified her own beliefs about money, changed her behavior patterns and was able to share her journey with the eight other women participating.
Fifteen months later, Maria has established an emergency fund, is putting two kids through college and has commendable savings for a down-payment on her first home. Even better, her children are learning from her grit and determination to make smart choices around money for themselves as well. “I wish I was using Compass Center a long time ago,” Maria told us recently. “It really, really helps. If I didn’t have Compass Center, I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t have that belief in myself.”
Abused Mom Finds Multi-layered Help for Ongoing Post-Divorce Issues
Jane first contacted Compass Center about a year after she left a physically, emotionally and verbally abusive marriage. She was in the midst of coping with divorce and custody issues in the court system and reached out for support. The client was quickly screened into our 8-week Domestic Violence Support Group. She also utilized our career services and participated in the Divorce and Separation Support Group. She called regularly and came into the office for information, resources, and most of all, support. She is now working full-time, has her own apartment, is a great mom, and has done so much work on healing and moving forward.
Recently, she also participated in a collaborative research project with MPH students at UNC that was hosted and coordinated by Compass Center. Here are a few quotes from that research project:
I find one of the challenges of being in abuse so long and then transitioning out of it, I have these voices in my head still of “I’m not good enough, I’ll never be anything, you’re not smart” You know all these things, and I find that I have to drown out that voice… so that’s one of my goals, is to keep replacing these voices and drowning them out and then keeping the new voices coming up.
I think the surprising thing for me was that leaving the abusive relationship didn’t stop all those feelings. I thought, I’d get out of it, and that would be it. But I find that there’s a lot of work that I have to do to break that abuse cycle because the kinder I am to myself, the kinder I want other people to treat me and the kinder person I hope to choose later on in life.
I remember thinking, “they are just going to be so tired of me calling. This is going to be the one thing that’s going to push ‘em right over.” But they were just so kind, and consistent, when I was going through court, and just, so much going on. I’d just be hysterical, but they were so calm. And so encouraging. And so, just, kind. And not pushy, not telling me what to do, because I think being in abuse, everything is, is, it has to be done a certain way, so they, they open it up, and gave me freedom to make choices, and encouraged my thinking and my ideas, and is just so empowering for me to take another step and another step.
Financial Education Helps with Personal Transformation
“Two years ago I was in a position, I wouldn’t want to put my worst enemy in. Unemployed, recently divorced and financially strapped. Compass Center helped me with my credit, to feel good about myself and got me employed. For this reason, I do thank you all for being there and willing to help women who are in transition. I think it would have been much more difficult if your center was not available. I transformed a lot quicker – for this I wholeheartedly want to give thanks!”