Pat O'Donnell, director of mission advancement at Dear Neighbor Ministries and StepStone, discusses the problem of domestic violence and what his organization is doing to help survivors recover and grow.
Approximately one in four women, and one in seven men, are affected by domestic violence nationwide. In Wichita, Kansas, alone, police investigate a distressing 19 cases of domestic violence each day. In many of these instances, the victim’s decision to leave their abusive partner depends on whether they have a safe place to go – a decision that can unfortunately be a matter of life or death.
Most major metropolitan areas have domestic violence shelters where victims can stay for a certain amount of time. However, after their time is up, they must find a new place to go. In many cases, victims of domestic violence are faced with only two options: return to their abuser or live on the streets.
Enter StepStone, a Wichita-based nonprofit that has been providing transitional housing for victims of domestic violence since 1996, assisting over 675 women and children to date. StepStone allows women and their children to live in one of the organization’s 16 homes for up to two years while they get back on their feet and gain the skills necessary to become self-sufficient again.
Through the HopeLine® program, Verizon Wireless has played a significant role in StepStone’s ability to sustain its housing and support services. HopeLine recently donated $7,500 to StepStone to help sponsor a house located in Wichita. The sponsorship will assist StepStone with the upkeep of home ownership, including maintenance and repairs, insurance, rent subsidies and property management, as well as principal and interest payments. In addition, the sponsorship will help StepStone provide support services that are essential to survivors’ recovery and growth.
StepStone has also partnered with Wichita-area companies, churches and schools to collect unused cell phones for the HopeLine program. So far, nearly 200 phones have been donated and will be refurbished and sold for reuse, generating proceeds that will be put back into domestic violence organizations through HopeLine grants and donations.
StepStone’s mantra is “transforming lives for survivors of domestic violence.” With help from sponsors like HopeLine, StepStone has been able to do just that for the past 17 years, functioning as a vital resource for a critically underserved community of survivors.
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