July 7, 2016
In our movement to end gender violence, it is essential that we create spaciousness both throughout the work day and on our weekends and holidays. As a movement that is comprised of mostly women, we need to be attentive to a recent study that discovered that when women work long hours (40+ or 51+ hours per week) there were elevated risks of four chronic health conditions – heart disease, non-skin cancer, arthritis and diabetes. And for women who worked 60 or more hours per week, they tripled the risk of diabetes, cancer, heart trouble, and arthritis. In the same study, men did not experience the same health risks, and in fact, when they worked moderately long hours (41 or 50 hours per week) they experienced less risk of contracting heart disease, chronic lung disease, or depression.
Gender inequity, or the unfair distribution and preassigned “roles” of housework and childrearing, is responsible for this inequitable and frightening health impact. Women experience more adverse health effects because, beyond carrying a full-time job, women are responsible for most of housework and childrearing — what many sociologists refer to as the “second shift”—which increases their work time and stress levels. “Research indicates women generally assume greater family responsibilities and thus may be more likely to experience inter-role conflict and overload compared to men.”
We also need to acknowledge the hours that we work. Just because the work day ends, many nonprofit employees spend the night wrestling with solutions to work problems, talking about our work over dinner, and falling asleep thinking about how much work we’ll do tomorrow. In order to be sustainable, we need to have adequate internal (during the work day) and external recovery periods (weekends, holidays, or vacation). So, we encourage you to take a few moments and read this article about many ways to foster resilience – from unplugging electronics to taking mini breaks to eating lunch away from your desk. Our own sustainability for social change is also our work!
Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence
ROSE Advocates has been engaging communities, inspiring change, and transforming lives for over 20 years. Their Family Resource Centers are located in Weiser, Emmett, Council, McCall, and Payette, but the realities of rural outreach have advocates out on the road much of the time, covering Valley, Boise, Gem, Adams, Payette and Washington counties and beyond. ROSE Advocate’s Maple Tree Shelter serves mainly women and families from these counties and Eastern Oregon. Covering that much ground in all kinds of weather requires a dedicated, cohesive team – and that’s ROSE Advocates.
Cultivating a trauma informed environment can be even more of a challenge when the team is spread out far and wide, and often working alone in their office or on the road. But Executive Director Dolores Larsen strives to foster a trauma informed organization.
Trauma informed services emanate from the inside out. “Creating a supportive team where we can all rely on each other and take time to have fun and connect sustains us,” Dolores shared. Advocates from all 6 locations meet in person once a month to keep connections strong and support each other. “Every year we all enjoy a self-care retreat together as well. We let our community partners know, and rely on volunteers, so we have the day for fun and self-care together. On another day, each spring, we have a volunteer appreciation banquet.” One ROSE Advocate said “Dolores is always there for us. She has talked to me about my childhood experiences with violence, and helped me realize I can do more than I thought I could.”
The physical environment at the office in Payette and 6 bedroom emergency shelter (co-located) are also trauma informed and accessible in many ways. They are welcoming and accessible, calm, and soothing, and at the same time, bustling with advocates, clients, children and an occasional support animal working together in a friendly, personable way. People entering the space are greeted warmly. Comfortable seating and meeting spaces are available, set up to be accessible for children and adults, including those with physical disabilities. Natural light shines in. Representations of nature are abundant. Culturally relevant, community-based artwork hangs on the walls, and bilingual resources are available. Open sight lines and privacy are balanced in the space. Secure, private, ample outdoor seating and play areas offer individuals and families opportunities to breathe in the fresh air, “get their wiggles out” relax, and enjoy each other. Every shelter client is given a handmade quilt which can be a comfort item for children in particular. Rooms are decorated with the feel and look of a home. Shared space in the shelter has open sight lines so parents and children can be near each other but working on separate activities such as making dinner and playing. There is space for TV, and space for reading, to accommodate people’s needs, and both large and small dining tables to give a homier feel. The lovely quilts, abundance of books, nice furnishings, and client driven cleaning schedule send the message, “You are worthy, and you are trustworthy!”
Besides lighting up when she talks about her great staff and volunteers, Dolores’ belief in youth is evident. “Youth can improve our communities and stop the cycle of violence. When teens are involved, the community notices and is more likely to support change.” Children who witness domestic violence need to know there is another way. That’s why ROSE Advocate’s youth staff and volunteer will be facilitating the Strong Kids Club, a several week education and support group for 6-12 year olds who have witnessed domestic violence. Dolores knows the youth are up to the challenge, and that they, of all people can be role models of healing and resilience.
With all ages and in all settings, Dolores’ mantra rings true: “Come to us before you need us.” The realities of rural advocacy are highly mobile. “We try to be out there, building relationships, being available.” Always wishing for more resources to work with youth and violence prevention, there’s one thing that Dolores says doesn’t cost a thing: “Give a kid a smile. See them. They need to know they’re valued.”
Funds are now available to provide transitional housing and other qualified expenses for survivors, children and dependents of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking who are fleeing violence and for whom emergency shelter is not available or sufficient.
We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with you, as you help survivors transition into permanent housing, with a priority of providing assistance for survivors who have disabilities or are from an underserved population. Many survivors can benefit from this assistance! Yet in order to achieve an equitable distribution of resources, we strive to reach our most marginalized or underserved community members.
Check out this Transitional Housing Launch Webinar, presented May 31, 2016 for Idaho Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault member programs currently not receiving other Transitional Housing funds. This webinar is required viewing prior to accessing funds, and covers eligibility, forms, process, and funding parameters. We tried to keep it short and sweet!
If you have any questions or need forms, contact Melissa Ruth or call 208-384-0419 ext. 312.
Thank you for your ongoing dedication to survivor driven, accessible, meaningful and practical services. Please remember to take good care of yourselves and each other as well!
One common habit of office work is to crowd our days with back-to-back meetings or appointments, without breathing space (aka spaciousness!). When we do this, we are not creating the time to refill our water glass or go to the bathroom, much less to properly reset our mind for the next endeavor to show up as our most strategic selves. (And there is a decent chance we are showing up to that next meeting late and stressed).
The paradox is that the meetings feel so important that they must be squeezed in, and yet, by packing our days so tightly we are absolutely ensuring that the quality of our work will be reduced.
Today’s Challenge –
Look at your schedule to see if there is evidence of this lack of spaciousness. Where possible, make adjustments to your schedule so that there is at least 10-15 minutes between each appointment. If this feels impossible today, start with 5 minutes and look for other creative strategies to create space for yourself. Stand up, take bathroom breaks when needed, sit across from a window and allow yourself to look out at the horizon.
Deepen Your Practice –
Make it a personal practice to block out 10-15 minutes on your calendar between any appointments you set up.
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