Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Guest Blog from Shirley Clark, Executive Director of the Women’s Center

This week we welcome Shirley Clark, Executive Director of the Women’s Center, to share her thoughts on the importance of looking beyond outcome measures when evaluating nonprofit performance.The Women’s Center works to improve significantly the psychological, career, financial and legal well being of women, men, couples and families, regardless of their ability to pay.

As any nonprofit ED receiving foundation or government funding will tell you, it is easy to get caught up in metrics and reports as requirements for specific outcomes increase. There is good reason for the attention, as donors and funders need to know that they are prudently allocating funds to organizations that can effectively leverage them. Last week, however, I was repeatedly reminded that we need to tell the rest of the story the heart of the story. The story that underscores the importance of the work we do.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and as The Women’s Center provides advocacy and counseling services to hundreds of victims each year, we were meeting to talk about those numbers and the measures that would go into our report when my phone rang. The caller was a former victim that had shared her horrific story with me several months ago. I had reached out to her and after several weeks, thought she may not have received my message. What she said told a different story. Even though it had been 15 years since she last had contact with her abuser, she said she needed a strong day to call me back that because she had shared her story with me, she felt it might come up and she needed to be ready to talk about it and on most days she didn’t feel brave. In that moment, the how many we serve dissipated as I felt her fear and also her will to be strong. Two hours later, while handing out wristbands to increase awareness, one woman looked at me and said, I can’t wear one that hits too close and I am not ready to talk about it. Again, my heart heard the story that couldn’t be told.

The headlines of late share snippets of a world one in four women know something about. Though tragic, the national attention is needed. What the headlines don’t tell is how a victim’s biology forever changes when being ridiculed and abused; that even though the bones will heal and the outward bruises will fade, the unseen scars can last a lifetime.

I am humbled to serve at The Women’s Center, where many seek counseling to help them manage the trauma and emotions resulting from the abuse. Spreading the word about how important it is to retrain the brain is a responsibility I take seriously.

At a lecture earlier this year, a noted Psychiatrist at NIH presented a great visual. Imagine a slinky, he said, that someone put a kink in. It won’t smoothly go down the stairs like it used to, but if you hammer it out, it will work again. However you will always be able to see where it was bent. Memories stored in a domestic violence victim’s brain are like the kink, and trusted counseling is like the hammer. The work takes time; healing will occur; the memories are always there.

Most people won’t understand. They will look at the headlines and make a judgment about how awful or why didn’t she leave. What we need to help people understand is there is so much more to the story.

“What’s Up Wednesday” 10.15.2014

Spring-like storms, summer-ish temperature, fall breezes…While our weather may be unpredictable, our nonprofits are always a “sure thing” when it comes to doing good in Greater Washington. Take a look at “what’s up” this week (video link here!)

Girls on the Run DC

Nearly 1,000 pre-teen girls across DC are participating in Girls on the Run – DC this fall season. The girls are learning valuable life skills which equips them with the information and empowerment they need to meet life’s pressing challenges: from peer pressure to bullying, body image to healthy relationships and healthy living. In the photo below, they’re learning about untangling their emotions and exploring both comfortable and uncomfortable emotions. They learned the importance of identifying their emotions and expressing them in healthy ways.


As always, DC SCORES is all about sportsmanship. This week,Brightwood EC and LaSalle Backus EC celebrated together with a postgame tunnel!(see the video in our #whatsupwednesday slideshow!)


Senior Services of Alexandria

On Saturday October 18th Senior Services of Alexandria and the Alexandria Bar Association will co-sponsor Senior Law Day at the First Baptist Church of Alexandria, 2932 King Street. Hear from local experts about what everyone should have in place including a will, medical directive, power of attorney, as well as discussing estate planning and long-term care options. This event is FREE, open to the public and includes a light breakfast.

Our Daily Bread and Food for Others

Community members throughout Fairfax County have been getting their teams together for Our Daily Bread and Food for Others’ Complete the Circle FoodRaiser on Nov. 9! They welcomed a team of staff, administrators and families from Fairfax County Government School Based Child Care Program (SACC) joining them year! Just a few of the team members are shown here with ODB’s Sheila Dixon (back row, third from right).

Good Shepherd Housing and Family Services

This week, Good Shepherd Housing and Family Services treated clients to haircuts at Hair Cuttery!

Finally, the Catalogue for Philanthropy finished printing our 2014-2015 Catalogue! We’re in the binding process now, and preparing our shipments next week. Look for your new Catalogue the week of November 1st!

7 Questions with Peg Hacskaylo, Executive Director of District Alliance for Safe Housing, Inc. (DASH)

In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month we welcome Peg Hacskaylo, Executive Director of District Alliance for Safe Housing (DASH) to 7 Questions. DASH provides relief to survivors of domestic and sexual violence, through emergency and long-term safe housing, and innovative homelessness prevention services. Peg has been a dedicated advocate to alleviate homelessness for battered women for 20 years. Her work has spanned government, business, nonprofit, and community organizations to address this complex issue.
Continue reading

7 Questions with Dr. Ludy Green, President and Founder of Second Chance Employment Services

In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we welcome Dr. Ludy Green, President and Founder of Second Chance Employment Services to our 7 Questions feature. Second Chance Employment Services promotes financial security for at-risk women and their dependents through comprehensive employment placement services. Dr. Ludy Green is an expert on U.S. domestic violence and human trafficking issues, as well as an internationally acclaimed speaker.
Continue reading

“What’s Up Wednesday” 9.24.2014

With a little over a month to go before the release of the 2014-2015 Catalogue, it’s a busy (and exciting!) time here at the office! But sometimes…that excitement gets the best of us and, well, next thing we know we’re mesmerized by an adorable kitten video and forget to include that video’s organization in our #whatsupwednesday blog. This was the case for Stone Soup Films, which, last week, sent us a video hot off its screen debut (courtesy of Stone Soup Doc-in-a-Day volunteers) about the Washington Humane Society. Check out their video here and prepared to be mes”meow”ized.
Continue reading