Fresh Start's goal with this project is to empower and educate 650 women to remove themselves, and their families, from dangerous domestic situations and give them a new chance at a better life.
Here is the latest update from last quarter in 2009:
-Fresh Start had 6,592 total visits to our Center, 745 of which were new visits.
-Of these clients:
- 293 were in a domestic violence situation.
-148 were homeless
-120 had mental health or substance abuse issues
There were 673 in-person sessions with an Empowerment Specialist conducted for personal development, agency referrals, document help and guidance
-Our newly opened online career center houses 9 computers for women to work on resumes and job search. These computers will also be used for our Legal Sessions, so women can walk through filling out legal forms in a group setting, with hands-on step-by-step instruction. In the first two months of 2010, 378 women have utilized this new service
- Our Educational workshops, seminars and support groups are also helping us reach this goal. These groups meet the diverse needs of the women who come to our Center for assistance. Many of these groups deal with abuse, divorce and substance abuse issues- all barriers to become self-sufficient. For the last quarter in 2009, we hosted 175 Spanish and English Workshops. Our support groups served the following amount of women:
Alcoholics Anonymous- 166
Relationships and Support Systems- 64
Divorce Support Group -47
The Healing Journey-33
The Women's Group -97
-First Quarter 2010 updates will be posted in April.
Veronica's Story- A Fresh Start Woman (name changed for protection purposes)
Veronica has a history of connection with Fresh Start Women’s Foundation. Her story unfolded a few years ago, when she called upon her sister-in-law to help her find a place to get help. She was in a scary place in her marriage, and wasn’t sure where to turn. For three years she thought about leaving her husband, and was afraid to take the step.
“I was in chaos, in turmoil. I had so many questions on things like custody and getting a divorce, but I didn’t know where to start,” Veronica recalls with sadness. Her husband kept threatening her and finally one night he got physical and put his hands around her neck, trying to restrain her physically. “That was the last straw for me. I knew I had to leave the house.” Veronica went to a shelter and a social worker referred her to Fresh Start to begin the process of filling out her legal paperwork.
“I went to Fresh Start and they helped me step by step. I was very scared, you know. My husband talked to a lot of people and I was afraid he’d find me. But Fresh Start gave me the tools to feel confident – that I could get out of this situation and actually be safe,” Veronica recalls.
Veronica knew she needed to find a permanent place to live and was worried about her children’s well being. She had three children under the age of 10. They were in distress, and were falling behind in school. Fresh Start referred her to a place where her children could receive counseling, and she was able to also start focusing on her own healing journey.
“If it wasn’t for this center, I just don’t know what I would’ve done,” Veronica shares with tears in her eyes, looking down. “I couldn’t believe it the first time I came here. My life was so crazy, yet I found peace here. And I was able to leave my youngest at Child Watch which meant everything to me, to know she was safe.”
She began taking classes at Fresh Start on divorce and child custody and started meeting with an Empowerment Specialist to walk with her through the processes.
A year later, Veronica is now living on her own and providing for her children, who are excelling in school. “I never imagined my life could change this much in one year. Fresh Start has given me the tools to do it. My children are really happy. And I have met people who are like family to me. I have no family here, so I really feel like this has become my new family. ”
Veronica continues to take advantage of the self esteem services and knows there are still so many things that she wants to learn and classes she hopes to take at the center. “My involvement with Fresh Start is certainly not over,” she says with a smile.