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  • Writer's pictureMegan Stuke

2021 Holiday Reflections

It’s that time again, the season when we reflect on the past year of work. We take stock of our triumphs and our challenges. We hope we did enough, used our resources well, and lived up to our mission and values.

Our services remain altered due to the pandemic, and circumstances were more challenging than ever for the folks we serve. We had fewer beds available due to COVID-19. We stretched every dime of assistance money as far as we could, helping people get housed, stay safe, and live independently. It is devastating for us to accept we can’t say “yes” to every request for shelter, every need for car repair, and every bus ticket out of town.

Still, we know our work has been impactful. This time of year, especially, that impact is apparent. As Executive Director, it is my honor to watch the staff of The Willow make miracles happen every day. They often aren’t thanked enough. They usually don’t know what happens to a survivor after they leave the shelter or move to another city. But occasionally, we get to know how we’ve helped. Here is one story: a letter the staff received from a survivor who received life-changing help when they needed it.

Dear Willow staff,

It took me 10 years, an entire decade to get to where I am today. Where am I, you ask? The Willow Domestic Violence Center. At the corner of freedom and independence. I have my friends and chosen family at the WDVC to thank for helping guide me on my journey towards being a true survivor.

I was put under a spell over a decade ago, despite countless attempts to fight back and get out, I simply didn’t have the support system to successfully get away and stay away. Those who did help me along the way, just couldn’t accommodate me and my little ones and financially it was a burden. BURDEN - a word the voices in my head made sure I couldn’t forget. Summer 2021 things changed. I was skeptical to believe that it was my big break…I can still remember the day I got the call from a certain advocate, there was a room for us! We had been sleeping in my truck and a blessing was long overdue.

The WDVC is as close to home as you can imagine. Warmth, your own space, good company, and basic necessities provided with absolutely ZERO strings attached. With that being said, I have to admit after my experience, it’s most definitely not built for the weak!

It’s a work at your own pace type of program. If you don’t work hard for what you want, you can’t take advantage of the beautiful benefits they have to offer. I came with my heart and head open to anything, humble and ready to embark on a brand new me, a brand new mama. I came craving independence & stability.

I worked so hard to be the mother I knew I could be; patient, calm, free of anxiety. I spent hours filling out all kinds of paperwork, searching for apartments. I worked hard to communicate with my advocate, to keep my HOME clean, to give to others along the way, to humble myself when taken from. I learned to think positively and let go of worry and fear, which is almost my favorite part. I spent time creating art & journaling. I discovered my passion as a beauty influencer. I worked on a master plan to go to school to become a lash and brow expert. I found out all about my credit score and set short and long terms goals to fix it. I learned who I am again! I strengthened my relationship with my babies, I rode the bus in the heat and walked a loaded grocery cart down the street. Last but not least I obtained a HOME for myself. I found happiness within myself. I couldn’t be more thrilled.

I lost so many things along the way, and yet none of the “things” can compare to what I’ve gained. My head was hanging on by a thread, and just 4 months later I feel as if it couldn’t be screwed on tighter! I spent a good amount of my time at the WDVC learning how to meditate and manifest. It’s been tremendously therapeutic! With a clear head, I’m ready to take on the world.

YOU are doing your job! But it feels like so much more. You’ve all been my village, my friends, my go-getters & my OTHER HALF. For that, I am truly grateful. More than thankful! I am a living, breathing, thriving example of what feels like could be a real success story! When you feel like all your hard work goes unnoticed…remember me!

All my Love,

Kerri & Kids

*Names and locations have been changed to protect confidentiality

Thank you for being on this journey with us. We are proud and humbled by the work

and by our amazing community. Please, if you can, contribute to our much-needed

funds this year.

Last year you were able to donate XXX. This year we hope you will consider a donation

of XXXX to double your impact and help us do more amazing work providing safe

shelter, support, and services in our community.

Yours in safety,

Megan Stuke

Executive Director, Willow Domestic Violence Center

P.S. The isolation caused by COVID-19 has made our shelter busier than ever. Please donate today to help us provide safe housing for survivors during the pandemic!

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