The founders of "A Better Way" Domestic Violence Shelter and Outreach first established a 24-hour hotline and recruited volunteers who provided victims of domestic violence with referrals and support. With the help of the community, “A Better Way” was soon able to provide emergency hotel vouchers. Now they operate a 26-bed shelter and serve over 1500 victims a year in the Victor Valley and surrounding areas, providing a multi-service program based on the original philosophy of the agency's founders. In addition to the shelter, educational classes are provided to the community free of charge. Victims and their children can live violence-free lives and the shelter will continue to show victims "A Better Way."
"A Better Way" Domestic Violence Shelter - Victorville, California, United States
After suffering through 16 years of domestic violence, Margaret Diaz summoned the courage to escape the abuse, despite the fact that it meant leaving her home, family and life behind. She became involved in "A Better Way" domestic violence awareness organization, and during her tenure as the Executive Director, the organization expanded from the original 24-hour hotline to a 26-bed shelter that serves women in need and their children. Not only does the organization now take care of the immediate needs of 1,500 clients annually, but perhaps more importantly, it equips them with the skills to make the transition to healthy and happy lives.
It was Executive Director Margaret Diaz's vision and determination that inspired others to help create the organization. She contacted members of the community who believed as she did: that no one, man, woman, or child should have to live with violence and sought to help those who were suffering in the community. The goal of the group was to establish a shelter, transitional housing, and educational resources to assist the survivors in becoming self-sufficient. “A Better Way” aimed to provide the necessary tools to enable domestic violence victims to end the cycle of violence in their lives as well as their children's lives, and build better, happier lives.
The initial 24 hour hotline provided victims of domestic abuse with referrals, support, and emergency hotel vouchers. Shortly thereafter, the group leased a house which served as a safe haven to 12 victims and their children. Eventually, they obtained a larger property to increase bed space from 12 to 18 beds. Then, with government funding, the shelter was expanded to 26 beds including handicap facilities, a playground and a daycare center. In addition, another property was acquired for the administrative/outreach office which includes a classroom and daycare area. Life Skills and Victim Impact classes and a Peer Support Group are offered to shelter and transitional residents as well as community members. Art classes for the children are provided by a volunteer art teacher.
The success of our survivors is a testament to the work that we do. We receive victims into our shelter and through counseling and education, survivors emerge. We believe that education is the key to empowerment, and the counseling and classes the shelter offers help domestic violence sufferers develop the skills they need to enter back into the community as survivors and lead productive lives. Communicating with the clients and asking what they need in order to become stronger helps us determine where adjustments to the program need to be made. We use exit forms to help our evaluation efforts, and we stay in touch with our graduates. Many of our successes have graduated from our program with jobs, savings accounts, vehicles, and homes they have purchased. There can be no greater reward or testament to a program than to watch a victim become a strong survivor.
It is the very nature of a non-profit to consistently apply for funding to keep our valuable work going. The fluctuation of the economy affects non-profits just as it does everyone else. In order to continue to provide a safe haven for victims of domestic violence in hard times, we "tighten the belt" and are forced to suspend certain aspects of our program. Our community education and awareness program is the first part of our program that is suspended due to lack of funds. We preserve the shelter at all costs as it immediately saves lives by providing a safe haven to victims of domestic violence. We continually apply for financial aid in hopes of securing funding so that we may re-institute those portions of our program that we had to discontinue.
"A Better Way" provides services in the Victorville area to victims of domestic violence and their children. We work with schools, community organizations, clubs, county and city agencies and businesses to provide education and awareness programs about the domestic violence epidemic. We are called upon to give presentations and educational seminars throughout the community on the effects of domestic violence. The survivors we have helped through our program have become self-sufficient, confident members of society. Our Founder and Executive Director was honored (in the February 2010 issue) by Woman's Day Magazine as one of the "50 Women Who Are Changing The World" for her efforts in protecting domestic violence victims and their children.
"A Better Way" Shelter's Website: www.abetterwaydomesticviolence.org