As 2015 got underway, A Woman’s Place (AWP) announced a new alliance with another organization serving people in need in our community: the Coalition to Shelter and Support the Homeless (CSSH). Read more about the details here.
If you haven’t heard of CSSH before, they are an inter-faith effort that operates the Code Blue Shelters in Bucks County during the cold weather months.
To make a long story short, AWP has decided to embrace a spirit of “collective enoughness” with other area nonprofits. We want to shift the paradigm from one of scarcity and competing for resources to one of abundance. Bucks County is both a resourceful and resource-full community. If we cooperate in a generosity marketplace, together we will find that we have all that we need to serve our clients.
This is especially true of community benefit organizations like AWP and CSSH which have a natural mission synergy and often serve the same clients. When a woman decides to leave an abusive relationship, she often has nowhere to go. This is particularly true of women with few resources. Lack of affordable housing and long waiting lists for assisted housing mean that many women and their children are forced to choose between abuse at home and life on the streets.
Across the United States, approximately 63% of homeless women have experienced domestic violence in their adult lives (according to the National Network to End Domestic Violence). Moreover, shelters are frequently filled to capacity and must turn away battered women and their children.
In 2008, the U.S. Conference of Mayors reported that compared with single men and women, families remained in emergency shelter, transitional housing, and permanent supportive housing longer. There are a number of reasons for this finding, but domestic violence victims experience particular difficulty. Victims often have poor credit records and employment histories because of the abusive circumstances they are fleeing.
So how does this new alliance and the generosity marketplace work in practical terms? Here’s one example: CSSH clients needed hand warmers but CSSH did not have a convenient collection point with regular hours of operation where they could easily accept donations from the public. AWP’s In Full Swing thrift store, on the other hand, is open seven days a week and can serve that function well. Because this brings new visitors into the thrift store, it’s a win-win arrangement for both organizations and the clients they serve.
Ultimately, we all want the same thing: a stronger, safer, and healthier community for everyone. Participation in the generosity marketplace moves us in that direction.
PS – If you’d like to help support CSSH, please feel free to stop by In Full Swing at 225 W State St, Doylestown with a donation. The most needed items at the moment are TracFones (disposable, low cost cell phones), $20 TracFone cards, $25 gift cards to Target or similar stores, and $10 fast food cards so that clients can sit in a warm place on winter days when shelters are closed.