Christmas can be stressful even under the best of circumstances. When you’re a 25-year-old mother of two in a domestic violence situation, the stress can be suffocating.
“Just thinking about Christmas about had me in tears,” said Ansley, who last year lived in the safe house operated by the Atlanta-based Women’s Resource Center (WRC) to End Domestic Violence.
The WRC aims to meet the needs of battered women and their children with programs that promote safety, foster compassion, fuel advocacy and enforce prevention. They link women to community supports and offer services that ensure no domestic violence survivor has to walk alone. In Ansley’s case, WRC provided her with Christmas dinner and gifts for her children, but the greatest gift of all? “A warm feeling,” a feeling that Ansley says she’s grateful for every day.
WRC’s Trade the Malls for Walls program, along with the DeKalb County State Court Marshal’s office bestowed Ansley and her family with a Christmas celebration for the books. They supplied dinner at her grandmother’s house and provided just about everything Ansley “dreamed of for [her] children at Christmas”: A microwave, a “Frozen” themed blanket for her eight-year-old daughter, that ever-elusive popular gift for toddlers, Elmo – Ansley said she had been trying to find an Elmo for her son in the months leading up to Christmas, but to no avail.
Chief Deputy Marshal, Richard Berkowitz and his staff of 30 at the DeKalb County State Court Marshal’s Office donated Ansley’s gifts. It was the fourth year the department has sponsored a family in the Trade Malls for Walls program. Every staff member participated.
“We like to give back to the community,” Berkowitz said. “We witness events that tug at your heartstrings, and this is a cause we want to support.”
Trade the Malls for Walls began in 2008 as a way to help generous holiday donors have a greater impact on families using WRC’s services. Donor groups receive wish lists of items families need to make their new houses and apartments feel more like home in time for the holidays. Common items include bedding, dishes and cookware, shower curtains, and cleaning supplies. Donors also provide winter clothing as needed and, of course, a few gifts for each family member.
In 2014 alone, generous community members like the Marshal’s Office staff adopted 25 families and gifted nearly $18,000 in needed items.
Trade the Malls for Walls is just one WRC program that made a difference in Ansley’s life over the past year. She participated in the financial strategies program Making Change and the Child and Family Advocacy Program. She saved a whopping $800 while at the safe house,which then resulted in a $400 match. She also made the most out of WRC’s legal resources as well.
Call to Action:
Families transitioning from WRC’s safe house into their own apartments often do not have the financial resources to make them feel like home. Generous donors can help by gifting dishes, cookware, bedding, other household items and gifts. If you are in the Atlanta area, please call the Women’s Resource Center at 404-370-7670. If you do not live in Atlanta, consider purchasing an item for a family from WRC’s Amazon Wish List.
More about the WRC:
The Women’s Resource Center (WRC) to end domestic violence in Atlanta strives to meet the immediate and long-term needs of the diverse community of battered women and their children with programs that promote safety, compassion, connection, advocacy, and prevention.
Each day they help survivors of domestic violence in Atlanta improve their safety by finding a safe place to stay, exercising their legal rights, exploring options and creating accountability for batterers. WRC greets women with compassion – no judgment, no second-guessing, and no shame. We provide connection – through relationships built with our staff, support groups and bonds forged with fellow safe house residents. By linking women with community supports and offering our services, they make sure no one has to take this walk alone. Equally importantly, WRC provides a voice for survivors when they cannot speak for themselves and a platform for those who can speak to be heard. Their advocacy for survivors of domestic violence works to change the culture that allows abuse to thrive. That advocacy, coupled with our powerful work with children, facilitates prevention and ending domestic violence altogether.
Learn more about their programs by visiting their Programs page.