Women’s and Children’s Alliance: A Safe Haven

October 30, 2014

story by Pamela Kleibrink Thompson

“My dream is that one day, we would not be necessary,” shares Susan Kelley, Development Director of the Women and Children’s Alliance of Boise. WCA’s mission is to provide safety, healing, and freedom from domestic abuse and sexual assault.

Despite Kelley’s wish, the WCA continues to be necessary. Last year, the WCA provided 8,941 nights of safe shelter to 73 women and 80 children escaping violence. Their 24-hour crisis hotlines received 1,618 calls. The WCA’s licensed professional counselors provided 2,681 individual counseling sessions to 209 adults and 45 children, with many others in line to be served. Volunteer court advocates assisted with nearly 90% of protection orders filed in Ada County. Clearly, the WCA does important work, but much of that work is dependent upon donations and volunteer hours.

“According to the United States Center for Disease Control’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, one in four women and one in seven men have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner,” notes Chris Campbell, WCA Communications Manager. These statistics are shocking, but even more disturbing is the stories behind the numbers. Not long ago, I brought a friend to the WCA with her son. She had been in an abusive marriage for nearly 20 years. As we sat in the lobby on one of the WCA’s surprisingly comfortable couches, my friend quietly spoke, as she gazed at a sign with the message “Embrace Change” written on it. Her voice barely audible, she said, “I stayed here with my son about 15 years ago.” We both knew this visit would be different. This time, she was going to get help filing for divorce. The WCA was helping her finally liberate herself and her son from 20 years of abuse.

All the services of the WCA are free.  Women and children find safe shelter upstairs in the WCA and at a safe house called Serena’s House, named after board member Serena McIlvain, which has 15 rooms. Abused men and their children are housed anonymously at a local hotel at no charge to them.

The WCA is funded about 50% with grants and 50% with private donations and earned income. Kelley would like to continue decreasing reliance on grant funding since grants are not always reliable. In light of this, the WCA is always looking for charitable individuals and corporations looking to help them provide services to these families in need. One Boise company that has been helping the WCA for the last three years is our local P.F. Chang’s.

This year, P.F. Chang’s in Boise will sponsor an all-day Christmas extravaganza and fundraiser on Monday, December 8th, from 11:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. Twenty percent of all sales, including takeout, will be donated to the WCA and two deserving families. Not only will the families’ Christmas wish lists be filled with brand new donated toys, food, clothing, gifts, and décor, but cash proceeds will be used to pay medical expenses, rent, and other debts, so that these families can enter 2015 debt-free.

Last year, P.F. Chang’s employees Joshua Foulk and Brad Philips wrote and performed an original Christmas song to promote the fundraiser for the Women’s and Children’s Alliance. The music video is directed and edited by Travis Bloedel, another talented P.F. Chang’s staff member. To learn a little more about this fundraiser from the employees themselves, do a search on YouTube for “P.F. Chang’s Christmas Charity Event Promo 2013.”

“The holidays are truly a time for giving, and the staff at P.F. Chang’s Boise is always looking for an opportunity to give back. The WCA is definitely a worthy cause,” shares Lissa Hamilton, Operating Partner.

My friend obtained her divorce with the help of the WCA, breaking the cycle of violence which she endured for nearly two decades. I carry small cards with me in my wallet from the WCA just in case I meet another friend who may need help or knows someone who needs help.

The cards feature the WCA Crisis Line: (208) 343-7025 and urge, “If you think you are being abused, seek help immediately!” As board member Debbie Cleverley points out, “Abuse is not always physical. It can be emotional too.”  Kelley notes, “It’s an issue of control.”  The card from the WCA says, “You may be in an abusive relationship if your spouse, partner or a family member tells you jealousy is a sign of love.” We can hope that someday Kelley’s dream will be a reality and those cards won’t be necessary.

For further information about the Women’s and Children’s Alliance of Boise or to attend their “If These Walls Could Talk” informational tour and learn about the presence and extent of domestic violence in the Treasure Valley, as well as how their programs help the women and children who come to them for help, contact Susan Kelley at (208) 343-3688 ext. 39 or skellye@wcaboise.org to reserve your place.

For more information about the WCA fundraiser at P.F. Chang’s on December 8th, contact Lissa Hamilton at lissa.hamilton@pfchangs.com or (208) 342-8100. Of course, you can always just stop by their Boise location at 391 South 8th Street and ask your server for more details.