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July: HOPE Hero

July HOPE Heroes - Dina

About our HOPE Hero

Dina was born and raised in the Washington D.C. area but is thrilled to be in Florida.  She became an elementary art teacher after going to art school in Boston and decided to resign from being in the school system to pursue her passion for coaching power skating for ice hockey. Dina then spent 8 years working with a non-profit whose mission was to create a better quality of life for veterans and first responders. She has always enjoyed helping others in any capacity she can. Dina ran a skating program for outpatient veterans at Walter Reed Hospital for two years and was also involved with animal rescues for many years, fostering any dog she could. Now, Dina is primarily a painter and is in the process of trying to sell her work online. In her free time, she loves being creative, and seeing things that can be ordinary, become extraordinary with a little paint. 

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What have you learned while working at HOPE? 

Everyone has a story and a journey.  For some, life is more difficult than it should be and we should show compassion and empathy in any way possible.  Whether making food baskets or Christmas packages for anyone in need, it is something that makes my day better hoping that whatever I do to help will create a smile and a glimmer of hope.  The positive energy and enthusiasm of the staff and volunteers make me want to do more for the survivors, families, and children. 

What motivates you to volunteer with this organization? 

I love the positive vibe and how the volunteers and staff are so dedicated to working with and helping survivors.

What advice would you give to a future volunteer or employee?

I would tell them that positivity and a smile go a long way.  Any type of volunteer work that can be done for the organization is valuable. Showing empathy and compassion is important and no judgment is important. 

Describe the most incredible view you’ve ever seen.

Flying on a plane with the sunset coming through the clouds was incredible or seeing a huge double rainbow when the skies opened up after a storm. 

Is there something that excites you so much it keeps you awake the night before?

I still wake up thinking about creative skating drills for ice hockey.  I will also wake up with a thought on my next painting or an idea to add to what I am currently working on. I am constantly creatively thinking. 

 

We truly appreciate all of your hard work and dedication to our mission! 

Impact of COVID-19 to HOPE Family Services

Domestic violence is often stereotyped to look like bruises on battered women and sound like loud arguments from neighbors. However, it’s important to remember there are many behaviors used by an abuser to maintain power & control. Domestic violence has different forms including physical and sexual violence, threats, intimidation, emotional abuse, and economic deprivation. 

We know external factors that add stress, isolation, and financial strain can create circumstances where a survivor’s safety is further compromised. When survivors are forced to stay in the home or in close proximity to their abuser more frequently, an abuser can use any tool to exert control over their victim, including a global health concern such as COVID-19.


The Impact of COVID-19 to HOPE

During the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, domestic violence centers across the country were experiencing a slight decrease in cases and hotline calls. In fact, the National Hotline for Domestic Violence shared that its contact volume in March 2020 decreased by 6% compared to the previous year. At HOPE Family Services during the month of March 2020, we experienced a similar decrease in hotline calls, compared to March 2019. (The HOPE Family Services 24-Hour HelpLine is (941) 747-8499) We believe the decrease occurred because this global pandemic has put up unique barriers for survivors to access support safely.

The 24/7 Live ChatLine on our website is a service where survivors can talk to advocates without the fear of being overheard by their abuser. Over the last three months (March 2020 - May 2020) we have received 248 chats from survivors in our community.

During this time of great uncertainty, one of the most important services our advocates offer is personalized safety planning. This could not be more critical during this three-month period as survivors navigated shelter-in-place requirements with reduced in-person support services because of social distancing.

As quarantine orders began to lift throughout the country, our HelpLine contact volume from March 2020 to May 2020 had an increase of 14%. As Florida lifted its safer-at-home orders and survivors found brief windows to contact our advocates safely. Even when the major threat of this pandemic is over, there will be long-term effects on the health and safety of survivors – and we must prioritize their safety and their needs.

 

The effects of COVID-19 will continue to be felt by survivors - Here’s how you can help:

Many of us feel socially isolated and fearful of the uncertainty of this pandemic. These feelings are only amplified for survivors of domestic violence. You can help a survivor by being supportive, helping to focus their attention on the things they can control, and encouraging them to practice self-care. For more tips on how to stay safe during COVID-19, click here. 

If you suspect someone you care about is experiencing unhealthy behaviors in their relationship, reach out and connect with them. The connection and support you provide could be critical for a survivor’s well-being. 

Wondering how to support and give back to survivors? Please help us spread the message that HOPE is here and survivors are not alone, by sharing our posts on social media, especially Instagram and Facebook. You can also support our services by donating (clothing and household items) or shopping at the HOPE Chest thrift store, located at 1215 8th Ave W, Bradenton, FL 34205. The proceeds from purchases at HOPE Chest directly impact the lives of survivors in our community. 

 

If you are feeling unsafe during this time, or if you are concerned that a family member, friend or neighbor may be in danger, please call (941) 747-8499 or if you’re unable to speak safely, visit our 24/7 Live Chatline: www.hopefamilyservice.org 

HOPE is here.

June HOPE Heroes

June HOPE Heroes - Louise & Holly 

About our HOPE Heroes

Caring mother and daughter-in-law duo, Louise and Holly, are dedicated volunteers at our HOPE Chest Thrift Store and this month's HOPE Heroes!

Originally from Michigan, Louise retired to the Bahamas for 20 years and began volunteering at HOPE after returning to Florida. Louise is a proud mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, and for nine years has been a wonderful volunteer for HOPE! Originally from Massachusetts, Holly retired to Florida after spending time traveling and teaching ballroom dance. After being invited to volunteer at HOPE Chest with Louise, she immediately loved being able to make a difference in someone’s life and has volunteered ever since. 

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What have you learned while working at HOPE? 

Holly: Since working at the HOPE Chest, I've learned that anyone, from any economic level or background, can find themselves the victim of domestic violence. It's amazing what HOPE can do to help those who find themselves in this sad situation. 

Louise: The work is very fulfilling, and you get to meet and talk with lots of different people who donate to the HOPE Chest.

 

What motivates you to volunteer with this organization? 

Holly: There are two main motivating factors why I volunteer at the HOPE Chest.  First, because of all of the outstanding work they do for survivors of domestic violence, and second, because of the camaraderie among the volunteers. It's a lot of work, but a lot of fun.  

Louise: I get a great deal of satisfaction at the end of the day. Volunteering at the HOPE Chest makes me feel that my work matters, and that in some small way, I have made a difference in someone's life. That is an amazing feeling, and an achievement to make anyone smile!

 

What advice would you give to a future volunteer or employee?

Holly: I would advise any new volunteer to feel free to ask anyone working at the HOPE Chest for guidance or to answer questions if needed. The volunteers and employees are fantastic and are always eager to help others.

Louise: The work is very fulfilling and you will learn a lot about working with different people and different personalities.

 

Describe the most incredible view you’ve ever seen.

Holly: Watching the sunset while in Hawaii.

Louise: The view of the ocean right from my house in Abaco, Bahamas.

 

Is there something that excites you so much it keeps you awake the night before?

Holly: Going on a trip, getting to see friends that I haven't seen in a long time and any type of animal adventure - like swimming with dolphins!

Louise: Definitely before going on vacation. I never sleep the night before due to my level of excitement!

 

We truly appreciate all of your hard work and dedication to our mission! 

March HOPE Heroes: Emergency Safe Shelter Staff

 

THANK YOU, Emergency Safe Shelter Staff!

We want to recognize our Emergency Safe Shelter advocates as the HOPE Heroes of the month for their continuous efforts in providing safety to survivors of domestic violence. As many individuals and companies are able to make the transition to working remotely during COVID-19, our shelter staff are working around the clock 24/7/365 to help provide safety to those who are not safe in their own homes.

HOPE provides a safe place in a confidential location for victims of domestic violence to evaluate their options. The shelter, designed to allow those who need it time in a safe place to make choices that empower them to live a life safe from the controlling tactics of an abusive partner. We provide survivors the resources and opportunities to be utilized in their best interests of themselves and their children. 

The shelter staff provide 24-hour advocacy by answering the Helplines, Chatlines, and providing safety planning options. They also help provide basic needs, supportive services, activities for the families and above all, cleaning to make sure all families stay safe and healthy during this pandemic.

We truly appreciate their dedication and commitment to helping save lives. #HOPEisHere #WeAreHOPE

Our advocate team works around the clock to support those in need. Unfortunately, not all of our advocates are featured below.

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