Three nonprofits collaborate to serve families
Serving the community in a pandemic has brought creativity and partnership among Vanessa Behan, YWCA Spokane, and Women & Children's Free Restaurant (WCFR).
The nonprofits teamed up to support women, children and families experiencing poverty, food insecurity, family violence and trauma.
They are providing food, care and outreach with a grant from the COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund of the Innovia Foundation and with other donations from the community.
The Women & Children's Free Restaurant provides meals to Vanessa Behan and YWCA Spokane Safe Shelter residents. Vanessa Behan and YWCA refer clients to food services at WCFR, which provides information on resources available to families in crisis through YWCA and Vanessa Behan through pocket guides with lunches and other food distribution.
"Women, children and families in our community are facing stresses compounded in a health emergency that isolates them from their usual support systems," said Regina Malveaux, YWCA Spokane CEO. "Working together, we are multiplying our effectiveness."
"For us, the gift of food brings comfort and support," said Lisa Diffley, WCFR executive director. "Always we use food to feed and lift up those in need, but through this partnership we also provide them clear pathways to seek other help."
"Children in family violence situations are often the silent victims," said Amy Knapton Vega, executive director of Vanessa Behan. "WCFR and YWCA Spokane help us touch families we ordinarily wouldn't have reached."
These leaders decided to partner when Innovia announced funding to increase service for those impacted by the COVID-19 emergency and by needs in the community.
WCFR provides free meals and groceries to nearly 400 families a week, and meals to 19 homeless shelters and care centers. Its weekly meal count exceeds 23,000, an increase of 20,000 meals since mid-March.
The YWCA shelter for domestic violence victims is full with some in overflow space at local hotels.
Vanessa Behan adapted their new space to serve more school-aged children and increased capacity, acknowledging that stressful times create increased family violence.
Because of the pandemic, more victims of domestic violence and their children are isolated at home with their abusers. The stress of the pandemic, with financial challenges, job losses and school closures, adds to an already dangerous environment, said Amy.
Local law enforcement officials report they have not seen an increase in domestic violence, but they worry that the "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order has increased incidents and suppressed victims from reporting them, she said.
For children, Vanessa Behan provides unconditional love and attention from adults who hope to create lifetime memories of security. For parents overwhelmed and lacking support, it eliminates burdens, she said.
For information, call at 535-3155 or visit at www.vanessabehan.org.
For 117 years, YWCA Spokane has helped women and children overcome social, economic and personal barriers to accomplish goals and achieve healthier, more fulfilling lives. Today it supports victims of intimate partner domestic violence (DV), builds economic empowerment, promotes early childhood education, and confronts racial and social justice issues that negatively impact clients and the community, said Regina.
"We envision a community in which DV is no longer tolerated. We embrace this vision through our wrap-around services: our 24-hour Helpline, safe shelter, counseling center, mental health services, housing advocacy, child advocacy, civil legal assistance, legal advocacy, economic empowerment advocacy and free drop-in childcare," she said. "In 2018, we impacted more than 16,000 survivors and their children. By working at the intersections of inequality, poverty and DV, we help disrupt longstanding societal patterns of trauma.
For information, call 789-9303 or visit ywcaspokane.org.
"Women & Children's Free Restaurant & Community Kitchen has been a vital safety net for women and children since 1988, said Lisa.
It fills nutritional gaps while fostering dignity and respect, both in its restaurant and through partnerships with women and children focused nonprofits throughout Spokane, she said.
For information, call 340-0477 or visit www.wcfrspokane.org.
Copyright@ The Fig Tree,June, 2020