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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


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!

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 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

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

Start Transforming Your Resume Right Now

Start Transforming Your Resume Right Now

Photo Credit: Flazingo LLC

Stand out among other applicants by adding the following 3 items to your resume. Your resume should be tailored to each employer, as what you have to offer may differ for each job — sometimes slightly, sometimes greatly.

Executive SummaryWho are you? How much experience do you have? What are the top skills you can bring to an employer? Your executive summary (also known as “Summary of Qualifications”) speaks directly to the employer. If an employer were only to look at the top one-third of your resume, does s/he know everything you want him/her to?
SkillsWhat do you know how to do that is relevant to the job you’re applying for? Look at the job description for each job as a starting point. List your skills as it applies individually to each position. Whether it be hard/soft skills, the employer wants to know that you can do what they’re asking for. Don’t be subtle — tell them why you’re perfect!
Significant Work ExperiencesWhat did you achieve at each of your former jobs? What will you be required to do in this position you’re applying for? If the job you held 10-15 years ago holds significant value, feel free to include it on your resume if you haven’t had a similar experience more recently.

Want to go a step further in your career exploration process? Call Compass Center to set up a one-on-one career advising appointment at 919-968-4610. Also, be on the lookout for upcoming career workshops.

The Violence Against Women Act: 1994 – 2014

The Violence Against Women Act: 1994 – 2014

We are all familiar with the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), at the very least because of its prominence in the news over the past year.  The controversy surrounding its renewal provides insight into larger cultural trends, specifically with regards to the work we do at Compass Center.  As such, this is a good opportunity to review the history of the act and its importance nationally and on the state level.

In 1994, Joe Biden introduced VAWA as a senator.  The act was a result of community efforts throughout the 80s and 90s, and as such, placed great importance on community-level anti-violence campaigns.  In addition to providing rape shield laws (prevents a victim’s sexual history to be brought up during cross-examinations) on a federal level, VAWA also provides support for a range of community violence prevention programs like those found at the Compass Center.  VAWA also ensures that victims of sexual assault do not have to pay for their own medical examinations.  Additionally, VAWA provides funding that goes towards training more than 500,000 law enforcement professionals to deal with domestic violence cases.  In these ways, VAWA directly affects our clients.

VAWA was up for renewal in 2012, and its opposition demonstrates the attitudes of social conservatives in the United States.  Though the Senate voted to reauthorize VAWA with some extended protections, the House rejected the reauthorization and instead provided its own version; the House’s proposed act limited crucial protections for Native women living on reservations, couples experiencing violence in same-sex relationships, and undocumented victims of domestic violence.  The legislative battle continued into 2013, until late February when the inclusive version of the bill finally passed the Senate. President Obama reauthorized the Act on March 7, 2013.

The House’s attempts to limit the efficacy of VAWA target the most vulnerable populations.  Victims of domestic violence who are in same-sex relationships are already less likely to reach out for help due to wide-spread stigma; legally prohibiting them from receiving protection would only further institutionalize this stigma.

Additionally, Native women are more likely to experience domestic violence than either their White or Black counterparts.  Not only that, they are more likely to be survivors of interracial assault, which results in limited ability to prosecute White offenders who perpetrate violence on reservations.  For these reasons, VAWA’s protection of Native communities is crucial.  North Carolinian practitioners especially should take note: North Carolina has the 6th largest Native population in the United States, with more than 110,000 Native Americans living in the state as of 2004.

Fortunately, the version of VAWA that was reauthorized is an inclusive version consistent with the vision and mission of the Compass Center.  The fight for an expanded reauthorized version demonstrates that sometimes, working for under-served populations means facing widespread institutional resistance.  However, the reauthorization is a chance for us to see our values reflected by our government, despite a long fight.

Thank You for Participating in the 2014 Through Women’s Eyes, By Women’s Hands!

Thank You for Participating in the 2014 Through Women’s Eyes, By Women’s Hands!

On March 7, more than 200 guests gathered at Top of the Hill’s Great Room for our annual Through Women’s Eyes, By Women’s Hands Art Exhibition and Sale. 5″ x 7″ anonymous mini-masterpieces from new and seasoned area women artists were available to view and purchase. Fabulous pieces by Andria Linn, John Rosenthal, John Svara, Barbara Tyroler and Renee Leverty were auctioned off and a dozen prizes were up for grabs in this year’s raffle drawing. Thanks to the support of many, we raised more than $54,000 to support our programs and services. We couldn’t have done it without the support of the community. Thank you! Photo Credit: Laura Shmania

Photo Credit: Laura Shmania

Presenting Sponsor
DWM Advisors

Gold Sponsors
Peggy and Gary Masse

Silver Sponsors
Clarkston Consulting
Performance AutoMall
UNC Health Care

Bronze Sponsors
Brock & Meece, P.A.
Counter Culture Coffee
Education and Training Systems, Intl., Inc
Franklin St. Partners
Gillian and Peter Hare
Grace Pilafian Landscaping
Lewis Anderson, PLLC
Tammi Brooks/501 Realty

Media Sponsors
Art Guide Now
Carolina Woman
Chapel Hill Magazine
News & Observer

Dessert Sponsors
Comfort Spot
Karin Mills, Spotted Dog
Mama Dip’s Kitchen
Moira Smullen

Friends Sponsors
Bagwell Holt
Bell Leadership
Donna Bennick
Jacob’s Capital
Leah Ogden, Raymond James
Management Services on Call
Michael Jordan Nissan
Minta Bell
Nelson and Company
Peaches N Cream
Ritter Endodontics
Southern Village Pediatric Dentistry
Steve Pike, Investors Trust
Triangle Neuropsychology
Woodmansee and Szombatfalvy

In-Kind Sponsors
Chapel Hill Toffee
DSI Comedy
Fearrington House Country Inn
Framer’s Corner
Healing Earth Resources
Ken Broun Jazz Group
Molly Maid of Chapel Hill
Spira Pilates Studio
Top of the Hill
Trader Joe’s
Walt Disney Theme Parks
Wine and Design + Venable

Golden Circle Sponsors
Christine and Gerald Bell
Libby and Lee Buck
Perry Colwell and Betty Neese
Candace Davies
Andrea Eisen and Daniel Pomp
Mimi Fountain
Robert Hogan
Verla Insko
Melissa Israel
Sheila Kerrigan
Laura and John Kiley
Susan Lindsay
Deborah Love
Harriet and DG Martin
Diana Mead
Kathryn Meyers
Sheila Northen
Patrick and Mary Norris Oglesby
Luke and Bob Page
Mary and Frank Penta
Elizabeth Preddy
Bill and Nancy Rickard
Sharon and Chris Ringwalt
Mary Jane Rivers
Deborah Roach
Melody Harrison Savage
Robert Seymour
Carol Stamm
Susanna and Stedman Stevens
Denise Ramsey Vanderwoude
John and Ashley Wilson
Mia Xavier
Art Show Committee
Peggy Masse, Co-Chair
Libby Buck
Sarah Forbes
Ann J. Gerhardt
Sherry Grooms
Jacquelin Liggins
Jane Leserman Madison
Alice Dodds May

Holly Gunning, Co-Chair
Marya McNeish
Cathy Meerbergen
Mary Moore
Laura Morrison
Moreton Neal
Ilyasah N Shabazz
Lynne Albert, Chapel Hill
Mary Ann Anderson, Chapel Hill
Katherine Armacost, Chapel Hill
Judy Bauman, Chapel Hill
Vidabeth Bensen, Pittsboro
Lois Bronstein, Durham
Becky Campion
Catherine Carter, Chapel Hill
Nell Chandler, Hillsborough
Connie Cohn, Carrboro
Debbie Cox, Durham
Esther Cruz, Durham
Kathleen Dautel, Raleigh
Bunie Deyo, Cary
Nancy Diciolla, Whitsett
Veronica Duncan
Carmen Elliot, Chapel Hill
Kristin Esterley, Chapel Hill
Serena Fenton, Chapel Hill
Jane Filer, Chapel Hill
Susan Filley, Chapel Hill
Karen Fisher, Chapel Hill
Aud Ackerman, Chapel Hill
BJ Fusaro
Peg Gignoux, Chapel Hill
Kathleen Gwinnett, Burlington
Tayitta Hadar, Chapel Hill
Martha Hamblin, Mebane
Betty Haskin, Chapel Hill
Erin Hathaway, Durham
Barbara Higgins, Carrboro
Ellen Stark Hill, Chapel Hill
Ame Hughes, Burlington
Susie Huser, Hillsborough
Jennifer James
Sally Kahler, Chapel Hill
Fay Kalman, Chapel Hill
Bernice Koff, Chapel Hill
Keysha Koy
Marcy Lansman, Chapel Hill
Cinnamon Larson, Chapel Hill
Jean LeCluyse, Chapel Hill
Emily Lees, Chapel Hill
Jane Leserman Madison, Durham
Jacquelin Liggins, Mebane
Marcy Little, Durham
Jo Lovorn, Hillsborough
Alice Dodds May, Chapel Hill
Pat Merriman, Chapel Hill
Sandy Milroy, Chapel Hill
Sharmin Mirman, Carrboro
Alice Moore, Hillsborough
Mary Rountree Moore, Chapel Hill
Margret Mueller, Mebane
Joan Nesbitt Mabe, Carrboro
Shannon O’Connor, Chapel Hill
Jenifer Padilla, Pittsboro
Charlotte Pamplin
Kaola Phoenix, Chapel Hill
Sally Pillsbury, Hillsborough
Bepi Pinner, Durham
Elizabeth Cate Pringle, Chapel Hill
Della Quinn-Carter, Hampstead
Sudie Rakusin, Hillsborough
Marjorie S. Rawson, Chelsea
Carol Retsch-Bogart, Chapel Hill
Ebeth Scott-Sinclair, Chapel Hill
Promila Sen, Chapel Hill
Karen Smith
Nancy Smith, Carrboro
Andrea Snyder, Pittsboro
Leigh Stailen, Chapel Hill
Dr. Jane Steelman, Wake Forest
Jeanette Stokes
Valerie Tan, Chapel Hill
Fay Terry, Pinehurst
Donna Thome, Raleigh
Kathy Tice Phillips, Greensboro
Betsy Vaden, Chapel Hill
Nan Van Der Puy, Chapel Hill
Kathy A. Veverka, Florence
Rose Warner, Chapel Hill
Emily Weinstein, Chapel Hill
Monnda Welch, Pittsboro
Kim Werfel, Pittsboro
Jewel Wheeler
Ruth Winchester Ware, Durham
Anita Wolfenden, Chapel Hill

Domestic Violence and Homelessness

Domestic Violence and Homelessness

The Orange County Partnership to End Homelessness participates in a statewide count of homeless individuals every January during the annual A Point in Time event.  During this count, agencies that work with the homeless population go out into the community and look within their own agencies to assess the number of people without a place to stay for the night.  This year Compass Center for Women and Families will be participating in the count.

As an agency offering domestic violence crisis services, Compass Center sees a variety of issues that come as a result of abuse including emotional distress, financial difficulty, and physical injury. During this time of year when the A Point in Time count occurs, we are reminded of one of the most pressing issues for some of our clients — homelessness.

When a victim of domestic violence manages to escape an abusive situation, it is often without the financial or social means to thrive on their own.  As part of the cycle of abuse, abusers often isolate their victim from friends and family, decide whether or not they can work, and control the finances.  Under these circumstances, a victim of abuse has few choices of where to go when leaving an abuser and is often forced into a state of homelessness to avoid returning to the abuser.

Women who leave an abuser without a stable place to go are also more likely to end up back with the abuser to avoid homelessness or end up in another abusive relationship because of their vulnerable state.  The National Coalition for the Homeless reports that 63% of homeless women have been victims of domestic abuse.  This number reflects how much domestic violence influences the lives of the homeless female population.

We must recognize the huge impact homelessness has on our community.  To do this we must look at the causes of homelessness and try and work towards change at the root of the problem. Whether that means preventing domestic violence, helping to treat those with persistent mental illness, or connecting clients to financial resources, Compass Center is a part of that effort in Orange County to help end the cycle of homelessness.

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