– Dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all, YWCA of Rock County transforms lives and communities through education and action to empower women and dismantle racism. YWCA understands it takes a community’s support to help individuals rebuild self-confidence, regain self-respect, and become role models. With the help of partnering organizations and donors, the organization provides childcare, Alternatives to Violence programing, Transitions programing, CARE House shelter space, and racial justice and immigrant outreach.
Alternatives to Violence is a program that assists domestic violence survivors in crisis with a 33-bed shelter and case management services. The shelter helps those fleeing domestic abuse and provides beds, linens, food, clothing, and personal care items to clients. Transitions provides domestic violence survivors with a place to stay for 12-18 months, as they work with case managers through extensive case management. The program helps survivors and their children safely return to independence with access to resources and the support to utilize them. In addition to the two domestic abuse programs, YWCA operates a 24-hour crisis hotline. In 2019, the hotline helped 95 women seek shelter and 160 children flee abusive households.
Your Giving in Action!
Fleeing from an abusive boyfriend, Heidi and her three young sons moved in with family members in Milwaukee. Not long after, Heidi started to notice bruises on her youngest child, bruises put there by a family member and family friend, people Heidi thought she could trust. “I was lost for awhile there. I was around a bad crowd, and I didn’t have faith in how my situation was going to turn out,” Heidi recalled.
Heidi knew she needed to take action to protect her children and keep them safe. She searched for a place to go, bearing in mind she could very well end up homeless. Heidi stumbled upon YWCA Rock County; it was the only shelter in Wisconsin for a family of four at the time. Heidi connected with YWCA staff and arranged her placement in the Transitions program.
Transitions not only provides apartment housing for families, but it also assists in skills building, job training, and domestic violence recovery services. The program is designed to help families transition to an independent life free from abuse. With the help of YWCA, Heidi is graduating from Transitions and just received her Section 8 housing voucher, which she hopes to use to find a house with a yard for her children. Heidi is also working towards her High School Equivalency Diploma to pursue her dream of going to culinary school.
Since graduating the program, Heidi says she feels ready to work on her personal and family goals. She says that includes starting new traditions and making new, positive memories with her family. Heidi reflects on leaving her abusive relationship and starting fresh in the Transitions program, “Being a single mom is hard in general, but you have to take your own steps and do the work.”