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UPDATE: Senate Budget Eliminates Funding for Displaced Homemaker Programs

UPDATE: Senate Budget Eliminates Funding for Displaced Homemaker Programs

UPDATE (As of 7/24/2013) The 2013-14 budget eliminates the Displaced Homemaker Program by next year. These 35 programs are a self-sufficiency and workforce development programs and one such program is housed at Compass Center. The General Fund appropriation to the program will be eliminated this year. Funds collected by the Divorce Filing Fee that support the program are reduced from $55 per divorce to $35 in FY 2013-14 and are transferred entirely to support the Domestic Violence Center Fund in FY 2014-15. The Domestic Violence Center Fund provides funding related to domestic violence across the State. In FY 2011-12, the Displaced Homemaker Program Fund received $1.8 million from the fee and supported the 35 programs across the state.

Over the past few weeks we’ve asked you to reach out to your legislators to preserve funding for the Compass Center’s self-sufficiency programming.  We’re happy to report that your actions are making a difference!  An amendment to return a portion of the Displaced Homemaker funding to the House budget to preserve our programming and allow us crucial time to refocus and streamline our service delivery model passed unanimously in the House.

However, the fight is not over.  The next step is for the House and Senate to “conference” and work through differences in their respective budgets.  This is where we have to make one more push to see our funding saved!  Please contact the legislators below who serve on the House and Senate conference committees.  They hold the fate of our state funding in their hands.

Below are talking points you may use when you call or email.  Read more about Displaced Homemaker Programs here.

N.C. Displaced Homemaker Program/Talking Points SB 402

  1. Current budget proposal eliminates funding for workforce stabilization:  job preparation/career readiness/support services delivered by Displaced Homemaker program grants. 
  • Last year over 5,000 citizens benefitted from these services. Displaced Homemaker programs currently work directly with Community College systems to increase the job-readiness or to retrain motivated workers to traditional, non-traditional or STEM jobs, all of which can increase the wage earning capacity of citizens needing support
  • Although G.S restricts funding to 35 counties (G.S. 143B-394.5A), many programs serve multi-county regions. No one is turned away due to place of residence.
  • Currently, the NC Council for Women receives and directs divorce filing fees to Domestic Violence Centers.  DV programs only serve victims of sexual abuse/domestic abuse. We estimate that 85% of displaced homemaker clients are not domestic violence survivors.
  • No savings are obtained from moving funding to domestic violence programs in 2014. Cutting 36% of the fees severely hinders the effectiveness of the programs to deliver services. Maintain full $55 per program allocation from divorce filing fees to sustain services and move over 5,000 women/men from dependency to wage earners and taxpayers.
  1. Restore fees from divorce filing applications for Displaced Homemaker Programs in 2013 and 2014.
  1.  Do not phase out the program in 2014 by redirecting fees to domestic violence (DV) programs in 2014. Programs serve different needs and both are important to families in N.C.

“Shifting funding to domestic violence centers in 2014 means women who are not victims/ survivors/ or who are over 50 without small children and who do not qualify for services from county agencies will have nowhere to turn especially in rural areas.” – Dion Terry, Ed.D., M.P.A., Former Executive Director, Women’s Resource Center in Alamance County

There is still much more education work to be done. Please target your efforts to members appointed to the Appropriations Committee. Funding is currently approved until FY 2014 but the 36% reduction will require programs to cut workforce stabilization services. 

Senate Conferees: Sen. Peter S. BrunstetterChair; Sen. Harry BrownSen. Neal HuntSen. Tom ApodacaSen. Bill RabonSen. Ralph Hise

House Conferees: Rep. Nelson DollarChair; Rep. Justin P. BurrRep. Linda P. JohnsonRep. Bryan R. HollowayRep. John A. TorbettRep. Phil ShepardRep. William D. BrissonRep. Marilyn AvilaRep. Mark W. HolloRep. D. Craig HornRep. Chuck McGradyRep. Hugh BlackwellRep. N. Leo DaughtryRep. Pat B. HurleyRep. James L. Boles, Jr.Rep. John FairclothRep. Roger WestRep. Pat McElraftRep. George G. ClevelandRep. Rayne BrownRep. Jason SaineRep. Tim MooreRep. David R. Lewis

Thank you so much for your great support of women and families!  

Martha’s Day – A Call to Action and Celebration

Martha’s Day – A Call to Action and Celebration

Laura and Martha

This July, Compass Center for Women and Families celebrates its first birthday, which makes now the perfect time to talk about the great work Compass Center is doing in our community. It’s also the perfect time to talk about why we need Compass Center in the first place: because domestic violence happens in our community every day.

I am acutely aware of domestic violence’s effect on our community. After all, domestic violence has drastically altered the course of my life. I have been blessed enough never to have suffered emotional, physical or verbal violence at the hands of a man I’ve loved, but my mother – Martha – wasn’t as lucky. She married a man who promised to honor and cherish her, but instead he threatened her, he beat her and, ultimately, he took her life. She was only 42 years old. I was nine.

I can’t pretend to know all the intimate details surrounding my mother’s relationship with my stepfather or her death. I was too young then to understand what was happening in my family, and I was certainly too young to grasp the concept of domestic violence. But 17 years have passed since her death, and in those 17 years, I’ve been able to explore what domestic violence is and why it happens.

Today, I’m inviting you to join me in that exploration and to start a community conversation about domestic violence at Martha’s Day, a celebration of my mother’s 59th birthday and a fundraiser for Compass Center for Women and Families, 6-9 p.m., Monday, July 8 at Vimala’s Curry Blossom Café (431 W. Franklin Street, Ste. 16, Chapel Hill).

When you join in Martha’s Day, you’ll enjoy live music by the Mahalo Jazz 3 and delicious food from Vimala’s kitchen, and you’ll be encouraged to make in-person donations to Compass Center, an amazing organization that helps individuals and families prevent and end domestic violence and become self-sufficient. Compass Center provides domestic violence crisis services, career and financial education, assistance with legal resources, and adolescent empowerment programs. Your donations at Martha’s Day will make a huge difference in the lives of people in our community touched by domestic violence:

– $25 covers the cost of one session of coping skills education for a child who has lived with domestic violence
– $50 offsets the cost of helping a client get a domestic violence protective order
– $100 provides one night of emergency shelter and food for a victim of domestic violence
– $250 helps to cover the cost of training one volunteer in Compass Center’s 45-hour training program

At Martha’s Day, you’ll also have the chance to purchase $5 raffle tickets for an iPad Mini, courtesy of DSI Comedy. Your raffle tickets also double as a free ticket to a summer show at DSI.

So, why is Martha’s Day important? Why is it important to come together as a community to address domestic violence? At the most basic level, awareness-raising for domestic violence is important because domestic violence is a serious problem. According to the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence, there have been 19 domestic violence-related homicides in North Carolina since January 2013. There were 63 homicides in our state in 2012. Why, when people are losing their lives, are we not engaging in more community dialogue on domestic violence?

On another level, awareness-raising is important because domestic violence is not just a “woman’s” problem or a “family” problem. It is a societal problem. Domestic violence doesn’t hurt its victims in a vacuum. Those victims are our friends; they are our family. They are our teachers, our co-workers, our employers. Domestic violence – and violence in general – has such a ripple effect; it touches so many people in so many different ways, and because we tend to avoid talking about it, we’re often unaware of how our community is shaped by violence. And that’s why these awareness-raising events and efforts are vital: it’s up to us as a community to start having difficult conversations and to start fixing a problem that ultimately touches all of us.

Finally, we need to raise awareness about domestic violence because there are still so many misconceptions about domestic and intimate partner violence. We have certainly come a long way in how we’ve approached and dealt with domestic violence, but we haven’t come far enough. The most obnoxious and infuriating thing I face when talking to others about domestic violence is “victim blaming.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a variation of, “Well, she should have left him.” People who utter those words usually have no idea what they are saying, but to those folks, I offer a reality check. Often for abused women, leaving the abuser is far, far more dangerous than staying with the abuser.

My mother’s experience is the perfect example. She left my stepfather. She ended the violent relationship. She even involved the authorities. She filed for a restraining order, but the issuing judge denied her that restraining order. Why? Because, he said, “she started it.”

And so, even though my mother took every appropriate step to keep herself safe, she lived out the final months of her life in fear. From what I’ve gathered, she told others that she was scared that my stepfather would kill her.

And she was right, but she couldn’t have done anything more than what she did to protect herself. On November 1, 1995, my stepfather waited until my mother went out to run errands, and he broke into her house. He cut her phone lines, and he waited for her in the kitchen. When she got home, he shot her twice – once in the neck, once in the spine. She did not die immediately. She lay on her kitchen floor, conscious. Not only did she live her final months in fear, but I’m sure her final moments were agonizing. And that thought alone is sickening.

I write all of this to explain that preventing domestic violence-related murders is about so much more than shrugging it off with a “she should have left” mentality. Not only does that mentality put the responsibility of ending the violence on the abused, but it also assumes that our current system for dealing with domestic violence works. And that assumption is just plain wrong.

When I think about my mom’s death, I feel hopeless. I feel like we’ll never make real strides toward ending domestic violence because the system is so messed up on so many levels. But I don’t want to end on that note because I know it’s not true. I know we can make a difference. I know the road to change will be long, hard and heartbreaking, but I do have hope that a change is going to come. And you can be a part of that change.

First, I’d encourage you to educate yourself about domestic violence. Compass Center has many resources on its website to help you understand and become a better advocate against domestic violence, including suggestions for ways to support friends and family, (click here), who may be experiencing abuse. Become an advocate. Write letters to the editor and to congress in support of making strong domestic violence legislation a priority in our community. Create a safe space for loved ones to come to you if they are suffering from domestic or intimate partner violence. Volunteer with organizations that are already doing good work in our community.

Second, if you are in a place to donate money, donate! Join us at Martha’s Day to make in-person donations to Compass Center, or, if you can’t make the event, visit www.compassctr.org, and donate online. Please write “Martha’s Day” in the “In Honor” section of the online donation form.

Senate Budget Eliminates Funding for Displaced Homemaker Programs

Senate Budget Eliminates Funding for Displaced Homemaker Programs

While “Displaced Homemaker” may have fallen out of regular use, the women and men whose lives are defined by that antiquated term are still with us. These people have not been fully employed for years, and many of them have been especially hard hit by the great recession. The NC Senate’s budget eliminates funding for displaced homemaker programs will have a devastating impact on the ability of Compass Center and programs like ours in 34 other counties across North Carolina to provide services that help them get reintegrated into our economy.

Who are displaced homemakers? Last year 5,790 individuals received training through North Carolina’s Displaced Homemaker Programs. That training helped them learn job skills, achieve financial literacy, and work toward community college certification, all skills necessary to move them from dependence to independence. They include the persistently underemployed, a category where NC has the sad distinction of ranking fourth in the nation.

Displaced homemakers include Irene, whose husband died suddenly in his mid-50s, forcing her to relocate her home and re-start her career in order to fund college for her teenage son. And Linda, who was downsized from her corporate job and needs new skills to succeed in the new economy. They also include John, whose several part-time jobs together don’t produce enough income for his family.

These and other individuals look to displaced homemaker programs, more commonly understood as workforce development programs, for case management, career services, and other resources and support to help them successfully re-enter the workforce. They learn the skills to land jobs, support their families, and contribute tax revenue to North Carolina’s economy.

The Senate’s budget redirects monies from Divorce Filing Fees, which has funded Displaced Homemaker Programs, to the Domestic Violence Fund. The new legislation does not require workforce development services be provided by domestic violence programs.

If the NC House does not move to reinstate the monies, the impact will be stark:

• 35 existing Displaced Homemaker programs will be eliminated.
• Unemployed and dislocated workers will have far fewer workforce development programs to help them access the skills needed to reenter the workforce
• Domestic violence services, while important, are targeted to victim assistance and awareness programs.
• By definition, not all displaced homemakers are domestic violence victims, thus many “displaced homemakers” will lose vital workforce development services with the elimination of DH programs.

Outsider Finds Community with Teens Climb High

Reem Lily toolsLily 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.

Volunteers Key to Our Work

Volunteers Key to Our Work

April is National Volunteer Month, a time to pause and say thanks to all the volunteers whose devotion and support for Compass Center for Women and Families enables us to provide the wide array of services we offer to our clients and the community. Our volunteers are often the first contact individuals and the community have with Compass Center, facilitating support groups,  providing crisis support over the phone, one-on-one coaching and education, information in the office, and education in our schools and wider community.

JJ is just one wonderful example of the work that our volunteers do for Compass Center. He volunteers as a facilitator for Start Strong, Compass Center’s anti-bullying, pro-healthy relationships class for local 6th and 8th graders, and sees its value “every time middle school students tell [him] that people bully because of the problems they’re having with accepting themselves.” JJ also volunteers as a Domestic Hotline Advocate for a weekly hotline shift, answering calls and meeting with clients in our office for crisis counseling, protective orders, referrals and more.

THANK YOU to all our volunteers!

Putting the Puzzle Together to Land a Good Job

Putting the Puzzle Together to Land a Good Job

Shelly was out of work, newly separated and raising a child. She knew she needed to find work… fast. She was having no luck finding a job, and her self-confidence was gone. She began working with counselors at (Compass Center) to create a budget, improve her money management skills, and figure out how much income she needed to pay all her bills. Shelly got help sharpening her job search skills, practiced interviewing, and learned how to negotiate a decent salary. Shelly now has a good full-time job and has straightened out her financial situation.

Legal Programs Help Demystify Divorce

Legal Programs Help Demystify Divorce

Even though she had been separated for nearly a year, Nicole couldn’t afford to hire an attorney to get a divorce. She read (Compass Center’s) Family Law Book and got enough information to decide to file on her own. She attended (Compass Center’s) Pro Se (Do-It-Yourself) legal clinic, got all the forms she needed, and – because of (Compass Center) — she was granted her divorce without any of the high legal costs.

Starting a New Life – One Woman’s Journey

Starting a New Life – One Woman’s Journey

Lisa and her two children now live in Orange County in a safe and peaceful home. But it wasn’t always that way.

For years Lisa was married to a man who created a home environment in which Lisa and her children felt hurt, afraid, isolated, unsafe and manipulated. Lisa was constantly ridiculed and called names. She felt like she couldn’t do anything right. At times she would be trapped in rooms, pushed against walls or have objects thrown in her direction. In addition to concerns for her own safety, Lisa was very worried about how her husband’s abuse was affecting her children.

She couldn’t believe that she had stayed in the relationship so long and felt ashamed to talk about it. She was so focused on getting through each day safely without a substantial abusive incident that it was hard to imagine she could have a different life.

At the suggestion of a friend, Lisa agreed to call Compass Center’s hotline. The advocates who worked with Lisa helped her understand that she was not alone and that what she was experiencing was abusive. She talked a lot about what she had experienced and how it was affecting her while the advocates provided emotional support. Lisa also benefited from talking about the advantages and disadvantages of telling friends and family about what she was experiencing.

The advocates were able to help her understand her options for getting a protective order or filing criminal charges if she ever chose to do that. She planned for her safety and that of her children to minimize harm when incidents occurred. Lisa also joined one of Compass Center’s support groups for women who are experiencing or have experienced domestic violence. She really appreciated being able to talk to other women going through what she was and seeing how they were dealing with their own relationships.

Over time Lisa made a decision to slowly take steps to separate from her husband. Compass Center provided her with attorney referrals and continued to help her plan for her safety. The network of support Lisa received from Compass Center for Women and Families, friends, family and other local services helped her to complete the separation, gain freedom and successfully adjust to the life she and her children have now.

Teens Climb High Participant Recognized for Leadership

Teens Climb High Participant Recognized for Leadership

Charlotte had been recommended to our Teens Climb High program at the beginning of 6th grade by her school counselor because of challenges she faced in her home situation and at school. At the end of her seventh grade year she applied for and was selected to be a Peer Leader for her final year in the program. In this role she attended weekly group sessions, assisted in teaching the sixth and seventh graders and planned events for the group as a whole. The younger girls and her fellow eighth graders looked up to her as a leader in the program.

Charlotte’s developing leadership has been recognized in other venues as well. In summer, 2010, she was selected to attend the “Discover the Leader in YOU Leadership Camp.” Following that experience, she was recognized for her outstanding leadership in September 2011 through the United Way of the Greater Triangle’s Women’s Leadership Council. In addition, Charlotte has been involved for four years in the Blue Ribbon Mentor-Advocate program, and attended the Duke Young Writer’s Camp in summer, 2012.

A 2012 graduate of Teens Climb High, Charlotte’s initiative and hard work have been an inspiration to others participants and leader in the program.  Program leaders are confident she’ll be a leader and an asset in all her future endeavors.

Click to learn more about our Adolescent Programs.

Making Changes. Setting an Example.

Making Changes. Setting an Example.

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.”

Click to learn more about our Financial Counseling Services.

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