Dear HAWC friends,
I hope this email finds you well and staying safe. As April comes to an end and stay-at-home orders begin to lift, I would like to update you on how HAWC, our staff, and our clients are managing during these unprecedented times. To those of you who have called, emailed, texted, and reached out to check on our amazing team, I want to first thank you for your care and concern. Your sentiments have not gone unnoticed, and we greatly appreciate you.
As an essential service, we kept our operations open. Sadly, we have answered more than 3000 calls since mid-March, representing a 40-percent spike in calls to our domestic violence hotline. You can watch a recent interview about the challenges survivors are now facing here.
Our shelter, practicing CDC safety guidelines and maintaining social distancing, kept its doors open to 100 women and children on any given night. We also expanded our Safe Harbor hotel program to ensure those fleeing abuse had a safe place to stay, regardless if shelters were full. To date, 60 families have taken advantage of this life saving program, thanks to our tireless advocates.
Since the onset of COVID-19, getting the message out to domestic violence survivors that help is still available has been a top priority. Last week, we helped launch #NoCOVIDAbuse, a citywide awareness campaign in partnership with Mayor Sylvester Turner, City Council member Abbie Kamin, The Harris County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council, the Houston Police Department and a host of other organizations and public/private partners. This campaign continues through the month of May with weekly social media posts generated by the Mayor’s office, the distribution of 750,000 informational flyers thanks to our friends at the Houston Food Bank and H-E-B, and video announcements from the awesome players of the Houston DASH. More information on this can be found at www.NoCOVIDabuse.org
Throughout this pandemic, counseling appointments, hospital accompaniment for assault survivors, children’s court services, housing support programs, and legal advocacy have shifted to remote delivery using the latest technology to ensure the safety and security of our clients. In just the first few weeks, over half of the women in our housing program reported a significant economic impact, including a loss of employment and difficulty feeding their family. We are doing all we can to offer direct emotional, financial, and legal support to those courageous clients who are striving to establish independent lives and are now doing so under increasingly challenging economic circumstances.
Many have you have reached out to ask how you can help. We hope you will take part in #GivingTuesdayNow on May 5th. In a Reuters News survey, 83% of nonprofits report suffering financially due to the pandemic, and more than half have reported an increased demand for services. HAWC is no different. Help us continue to offer lifesaving support and services to survivors during this critical time through our #GivingTuesdayNow page here.
Finally, please join me in saluting our frontline staff, all of whom deserve immense gratitude for being there for survivors in spite of the challenges we are facing. They are first responders in the fight to flatten the domestic violence curve.
HAWC’s shelter staff striking their social distance pose!
May we all continue to navigate this pandemic safe, healthy and free from violence.
Thank you for your ongoing support.
Very truly yours,
President & CEO