Abby’s House is a women’s shelter devoted to the protection of women and children against violence and homelessness (abbyshouse.org). According to their website, the shelter was named after Abbey Foster Kelley, the abolitionist and advocate for women’s rights (1811-1887). Abby’s House was incorporated in 1976 when the shelter opened its doors as an emergency shelter for women, with or without children, at the beginning of the “battered women’s movement”. According to the organization’s brochure more than 10,000 women and children have been sheltered since the organization began. The shelter welcomes about 300 women and children every year, operates 78 units of emergency housing and serves about 6,000 meals a year.
Alexandra Kartheiser, Communications Coordinator for the shelter answered some questions regarding Abby’s House and its service to women in the community:
How can women, who need emergency shelter, contact your organization?
Someone looking for emergency support, housing, or general information can contact Abby’s via phone, email, and walk in.
Is there a hotline for those that just need some guidance in getting away from their abuser?
Yes, it is called Safelink. The SafeLink number is (877) 785-2020. SafeLink is a critical resource to those affected by domestic violence. Callers to SafeLink receive confidential help 24 hours a day, 365 a year. SafeLink’s specially trained advocates provide support in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. (http://www.casamyrna.org/safelink.html)
What can an abused woman and or her children expect when she arrives at Abby’s House for the first time?
There are a number of different ways women and children arrive at Abby’s House. Their first contact will mostly likely be with someone on the phone or as a walk in. They will talk to a staff person to determine what she [is] ready for. First, we must find out if they are safe in a known local shelter, which we are. If not, we refer them to Safelink. After understanding the woman’s situation, we are able to work with her on an individual service plan. We tell her what Abby’s House can offer and educate her as well as resources in the community. If they are appropriate for the Shelter, they will come in on a daily basis to meet with their personal advocate. After filling out an application and meeting with our housing advocate, we can determine if they are a good fit for Abby’s housing.
At Abby’s House, advocacy means empowering women to recognize their own strengths so they may take the next step and move forward in the pursuit of their goals. Working together we have a terrific success rate:
— 94% of working residents in our service-enriched housing remain in continuous employment;
— 93% of residents in our housing move on to stable, long-term housing.
Are there translators or staff member who speak other languages at Abby’s House to help women who do not speak English?
We currently have three staff members who speak Spanish, and a staff member that speaks French.
Do you know what life like for abused women in Worcester County before safe havens like Abby’s house existed?
Prior to 1974, there were no resources for homeless and/or battered women in the city of Worcester. Women would go to their churches, local fire and police stations, but often found that they had no resources to help them gain a long-term plan for leaving their abusive situations. If a woman was able to escape her abuser, they might have been lucky to stay with friends or family, however, many women were forced to live on the streets and might even turn to prostitution to survive.
Does anyone from your organization speak regularly at functions to make organizations aware of Abby’s House and its mission?
Yes, we are available for speaker presentations at community events, groups, schools, etc.
If someone knows of a women (and her children) being abused can he or she contact Abby’s House on her behalf anonymously?
Yes. We regularly speak with family and friends of an abused victim and respect confidentiality.
What can people do to help Abby’s House beside donating money and volunteering for your organization?
There are a number of things people can do to help and promote Abby’s House. Ask a representative to come for speaking presentations for community education, visit our website (www.abbyshouse.org) and share it with someone you know, join our email database by emailing me at [email protected], have a collection of food, clothes, gift cards, phone cards etc. You can come and visit our thrift store [which is open from Monday to Friday 10am to 3pm and Saturdays 10 am to 1pm], and educate yourself on homelessness and domestic violence. There’s a lot wonderful websites on the issues including the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) http://www.ncadv.org.
This month is Domestic Violence Awareness month, are there any special events planned for Abby’s House?
Yes! This month we are having our first ever HipHipHerRace 5K Run/Walk to Benefit Abby’s House on Saturday October 23, 2010 starting at the West Boylston Middle High School. Runners, walkers, and families are welcome. “HipHipHerRace” 5K run/walk to benefit Abby’s House, Saturday, October 23, 2010, 8:00 am, start at West Boylston Middle/High School.
The . “HipHipHerRace” is Sponsored by:
O’Brien & Gibbons Insurance Center
Susan Manero & Associates Insurance Services
Mothers & Company “Your Natural Parenting Place”
All proceeds benefit Abby’s House. To register:
We are also having an upcoming event in November called Women in Wine –
7th Annual WOMEN IN WINE, Thursday, November 11, 2010
Food from the best local restaurants and caterers, wine tasting, artwork, music, raffle and silent auction. “Share your strength for Abby’s House.” Tickets are $50.00 or $75.00 per couple. Please email [email protected] or call 508-756-5486 for tickets.