November & December theme:
“Choose One Thing”
Posted in :  Community Works

As a mother, I have had to sacrifice some things and as my time has become less and less about me I have scaled back the volunteering I once did. I am no longer on the board of the Ad Club of Connecticut, the non-profit where I was once President. I continue to help how I can, managing social media and a section of the website but it’s harder than ever for me to find time to volunteer outside of work. That’s why I’m doubly excited about Fathom’s commitment to Community Works, which allows us to volunteer during work hours in groups and on our own.

I decided to use my individual volunteering hours on 9/11, which is a National Day of Service. I contacted my friend Sarah Morin at The Alliance for Non-Profit Growth and Opportunity and she suggested Interval House. Based in central Connecticut, Interval House is dedicated to providing services to prevent and break the cycle of family and intimate partner abuse.

To volunteer or learn more about Interval House go to: intervalhousect.org

They have a satellite office located in my area and I was excited to work so locally. Once I found the office, which is in a non-published location, I met with Donna, the Program Coordinator of Interval House East. She vetted me to be sure that it would be okay for me to volunteer and I had to sign a confidentiality agreement. I was not able to volunteer at the shelter or come face to face with any of the clients. Many Interval House volunteers do work directly with clients, but weeklong certification training is required first. Donna is very passionate about her job and the work that Interval House does. And they do a lot of really great things. Donna and I spoke for the greater part of an hour just about all of the services Interval House and its two satellite offices have to offer victims in their 24-town catchment area.

The organization has three locations: Interval House which includes a shelter in the Hartford area, Interval House East covering towns east of the river and Interval House West serving the towns in the Farmington Valley.  Shelter is offered to all victims of domestic violence and their dependents from the 24-town catchment area and in some cases they may come from out of the catchment area or state due to safety circumstances.  The average shelter stay is 6 weeks and the shelter has 10 bedrooms and about 20 people at a time. The food is provided through food grants, grocery store donations, private contributors and Interval House food budget. Each night two of the residents make dinner for the rest of the residents and their families.

My volunteering involved office work, because unlike those at Fathom who create really awesome things, filing is up my alley. Not that many people like this type of work, so I think Donna really appreciated it. During my time there I learned a lot about Interval House and domestic violence in general. For instance, did you know that by law, if a victim of domestic violence feels unsafe in the housing they’ve shared with the abuser, they can break the lease with 60-days notice? That’s certainly not something landlords would advertise.

Donna took several hotline calls while I was filing and while the details were unknown to me and confidential, I could get the general gist of the calls. Most cases involved children and a mother’s (or father’s) need to protect them from their spouse, the abuser. Seeing this through a mother’s eye just breaks my heart. I can’t even imagine being in that position and having to protect my child from one of the two people who they should be able to trust most to protect them.

Interval House is definitely an organization I’ll keep my eye on and hope to work with again. I told Donna that while I have young kids and can’t commit to regular volunteering at this point in my life, she should certainly shoot me an email when those files start to stack up again! And there are so many other ways to get involved. Won’t you consider helping out Interval House or finding an organization that speaks to you?

More About Interval House

Interval House runs a crisis hotline and three weekly support groups for victims of domestic violence at all three locations. They provide victims with all kinds of assistance and advice concerning safety planning, housing, social services, attorney referrals, custody, immigration, protective and restraining orders. They advocate at court for clients, both in criminal court and civil courts. They have children’s programs in the Hartford area program and support groups for the children at all three locations. They work closely with the local police departments who have a list of 13 questions to ask at each call where domestic violence is suspected. The officer can call Interval House Hotline to have a victim speak with someone at Interval House to offer immediate safety and services. They help with trainings offered to police officers on proper response to calls regarding domestic violence. They work with Verizon to provide phones to clients as needed. They provide individual and group counseling. They work with local hospitals and doctors’ offices through their outreach programs.

Long story short, Interval House has been around the block a few times and they know the ins and outs and can help someone who is frightened and overwhelmed navigate the system. If they can’t help someone, they can put them in touch with someone else who can.

How You Can Get Involved

  • Make a tax deductible gift
  • Donate a used cell phone. Verizon will reprogram it at no cost to Interval House.
  • Donate something needed on their shelter wish list
  • Encourage your company to form a partnership
  • Volunteer your time for Direct Service. Direct Service volunteers assist in Crisis and Hotline counseling; facilitate support groups; work with the children’s program; and help in the safety and healing process of those women and children who come to Interval House.  Following the interview process and successful background check, each direct service volunteer must complete five days of thorough training. Volunteers who complete the intensive training will then be certified as Battered Women’s Counselors.
  • Participate in the Interval House East toy drive around Christmas for those East of the River
  • Hold a third party fundraiser
  • Volunteer for committee or board participation or get in touch to see what other skills you can bring to the Interval House.

For more information on getting involved, please contact Interval House’s Volunteer Coordinator at 860-246-9149 ext. 350.

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Posted by: Jennifer Ford
Email the author: jennf@fathom.net