West Women's and Children's Domestic Violence Shelter

Mission of The Salvation Army West Women's and Children's Shelter. Create a safe and nurturing environment for survivors to realize their potential for healing and growth as we work together to end domestic violence.
Aug 27, 2014

West Women's and Children's Shelter Project Report

Mother's love

West Women’s and Children’s Shelter continues to provide 60 day emergency shelter for up to 8 women and 4 families at any given time.  Our services are only possible with the utilization of funding for emergency shelter through the Multnomah County Domestic Violence Coordinators Office.  In addition to operating emergency shelter, The West also provides co-located transitional housing, children's program (with onsite childcare), parent child specialist services, 24 hour crisis line, food services including food boxes, support groups, clothing closet, transportation resources, rental assistance and permanent supportive housing, and essential needs resources to domestic violence survivors and their families.

Participants have a designated Advocate to be their primary support person during their shelter stay, and there has been no staff turnover on our emergency shelter advocacy positions.  In addition, we have at least two staff on at any given time to provide additional support services to residents.   We are one of the only emergency shelters in the Portland area which does not close yearly for cleaning or repairs as our facilities staff prioritize these projects throughout the year, and we recognize the overwhelming need for shelter for women and children experiencing domestic violence. Our generous donors make it possible for us to provide this high level and care for survivors of domestic violence.  Thank you!

May 14, 2014

West Women's and Children's Shelter Project

The West’s Emergency Shelter program provides a holistic approach to services, taking in account many aspects of their lives. This includes domestic violence education prevention (including Native American specific domestic violence support groups) for women and children; parenting and life skills support; therapeutic art classes; spiritual counseling and support upon request; GED tutoring; educational resources and scholarships; employment specialists and resources; self defense workshops and self care opportunities. Each resident can select from these many options to meet their complex and individual needs.

Two years ago we implemented the Family Reunification Project to support survivors in completing Child Protective Services requirement to regain custody of their children who were removed from the family. Removal issues include children witnessing domestic violence, the mother's lack of resources and parenting skills, custodial interference and chemical dependency issues. Our Project is recognized as an effective resource for moms working to reunite with their kids in a safe and stable environment by Children's Protective Services through onsite collaboration for group and family activities, including trial overnight stays with their child in a visitation apartment that we set up for this purpose. The Family Reunification Project is unique to Portland Metro Area domestic violence residential services. The West supports the safe reunification of at least five survivors and their children each year.

Family Reunification is essential to the recovery of women leaving domestic violence relationships. As one mom recently said, “My baby was taken from me at birth and if it wasn’t for help I have received at the West he would not be with me today."  This once fragile family is doing well and has moved into safe community housing.   

Feb 12, 2014

West Women's and Children's Shelter Project Report

West Women's and Children's Shelter has continued to offer emergency shelter, transitional housing, crisis line services, advocacy/case management, food services, to survivors of domestic violence with the generous support of our donors. Below is a narrative of a survivor and her children we provided shelter, safety, and hope to with your help.

“Rita” and her four children came to the West from a very long period of homelessness, trauma, domestic violence, and issues of adult chemical dependency.   “Rita” was referred by Pam Britt, homeless lesion from Chapman elementary school. Pam was aware of “Rita's” family situation through working with her children. Pam called and advocated strongly for this wonderful mom who had been struggling for a very long time and needed somewhere to stay with her children ages 4 to 12.

“Rita” and her kids came to the West, shaken and nervous.   After meeting with her, “Rita’s” Family Advocate learned how this family had been on the streets, staying in cars, couch surfing, residing in hotels and emergency shelters for over a year.  “Rita” was in an abusive relationship with her youngest children's father.  He was manipulative, violent, but worst of all to “Rita”, he made it impossible for her to be the mother she needed and wanted to be.  “Rita” decided to leave, gave notice at the apartment she shared with her abuser, obtained a restraining order, paid rent for the next couple of months to keep her belongings there, and went to stay with a friend as she no longer felt safe. When she returned to collect her belongings, there was an eviction notice on the door and within a couple of weeks, her and her children were locked out with nowhere to go.

For the month of August and September 2012, “Rita” and her family bounced between hotels, friends, their car, and a shack she built for her family in a park. She tells us that one night, she awoke to find one of her twins had wandered off. She found him quickly, but knew then she needed to find a more permanent, safe home for her and her family. She connected with a shelter (Yolanda house), and was there for a month and a half. She then moved her and her children to another shelter (Raphael house) but was still unable to find anything permanent or stable for her family. After her stay at the second shelter, “Rita” and her children used a TA-DVS grant and money she received from her tax return to stay in hotels. Upon the funds running out, she found herself and her children back on the streets. For six months, they bounced between street, couches, and a park. “Rita” felt defeated and unable to continue.

She felt she was failing as a mother, the one thing she states she had always wanted to be. Finally, she called the West and was able to come in with her kids. It was evident immediately the love she has for her children is immense. She was visibly shaken, but held it together for them. She decorated their room to make it home, spent time with each one, together and separately, and did everything she could to make them feel safe and happy.

While at the West, “Rita” has dug in and really worked on her core issues, domestic violence, housing barriers, and addiction issues. Her advocate in her recovery program speaks very highly of her, stating she is a joy to work with and is doing all she can to stay on track. “Rita” attended our in house groups, including over 20 hours of our domestic violence education and support group. “Rita” had stabilized, and yet we saw the need for further assistance for her and her family. They needed a home in which to grow and bond as a family.

“Rita” was approved for our Women's Housing Collaborative, WHC, in October 2013.  The WHC is a permanent supportive housing program designed to assist chronically homeless women in their efforts to achieve self-sufficiency by providing rental assistance, imparting life skills, and offering advocacy.  Upon hearing the news, “Rita” was both excited and nervous.  She and her kids hadn't known stability in some time. She applied to rentals and was denied due to her background. Magically, she came up on a low income waitlist.  We encouraged her to follow that lead. With letters of advocacy, a larger support system and optimism, “Rita” began the process.  She was denied the first pass, but with lots of encouragement, letters from staff at the West, her advocate from recovery, and a beautiful letter from herself requesting a reasonable accommodation, her denial was overturned, and “Rita” and her kids were able to move into a home on December 20th, just in time for time for Christmas.