Taste for a Cause Success!

Posted on October 12, 2017

THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS

Thank you for supporting Taste for a Cause! We had an awesome evening of tastings, auctions and fundraising. Over 350 people from across Denton County came out to Witherspoon Distillery on September 23rd to attend the SOLD OUT event of the season that raised over $75,000

VIEW THE PHOTO ALBUM

Live music from Bonnie and Nick Norris complimented the casual vibe of the event. In the rustic venue, guests casually perused silent auction items and bid on items straight from their phones. Everyone snacked on creative cuisine from Boca 31, Rachel's Riding Lawn Mower, Hannah's, Fresco's, Roma's Italian, and Prohibition Chicken while listening to music and tasting delicious mixed drinks made with whiskey and vodka distilled by Witherspoon. The best drink of all was the Impact Maker! Made by Witherspoon specifically for Taste for a Cause, the impact maker had hints of blueberry, lemonade, and hibiscus. 

VIP guests had exclusive access to the barrel room, where they had an open bar and poker tables!  

Connected to the barrel room was the distillery room, where all guests could get a fun tour with information about how the whiskey is distilled. Lining the walls of this room were silent witnesses with stories of victims of domestic violence in Texas who have been murdered by their partners. They stood as a powerful reminder of the importance of the work that we do at Friends of the Family. 

The program featured an inspiring video of our clients with how Denton County Friends of the Family impacted their life. We are so grateful for the support the community provided at this year's event and inspired by the courageous women who shared their story. 

 We were able to raise $75,000 to support victims of sexual and domestic violence right here in our community. Thank you for investing in safety, hope, healing, justice, and prevention for victims of sexual and domestic violence.  

VIEW THE PHOTO ALBUM

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Sarah's Moving!

Posted on October 6, 2017

"Our client will be moving into her own apartment this month."

These are some of the happiest words for us to read here at Denton County Friends of the Family. Often times our clients climb extremely long uphill battles to arrive to the point where they have a safe home to call their own, and it is most certainly a moment of celebration when they do.

Sarah (client's name has been changed for confidentiality) came to our agency following the arrest of her ever increasingly abusive husband and was left with the challenges of healing from her trauma. Sarah was left with the consequences of the night her abuser came home and made the decision to physically abuse Sarah and their children.

Knowing that her abuser had made the decision and choice to abuse their children Sarah knew that she needed to act quickly to ensure that her children grew up in a home where they were safe.

Unsure of what to do next Sarah came to Denton County Friends of the Family where she was able to get access to our emergency shelter and began to have our team of experts help her navigate her court case, CPS, job searches and an array of other challenges and barriers.

Sarah has shown determination and grit working two jobs, completing her GED courses and successfully securing her own home.

As we all know, it's incredibly hard to furnish a home from scratch and Sarah needs the help of our community partners! If you could donate any of the following items please reach out to our Community Resource Coordinator, Desiree Melkovitz at DMelkovitz@dcfof.org

Items Sarah Needs:

Queen size mattress, box spring and frame
Toddler bed and mattress
2 Cribs and mattresses
2 twin sized box springs and frames
Stroller
Living Room Couch
Washer and Dryer set
Kitchen Table and Chairs
TV
Sheets and blankets for all beds
Toys and books for the children

Thank you for helping Sarah and the many women who share Sarah's story. You are investing in safety, hope, healing, justice, and prevention.

I Can Help!

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Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Posted on October 4, 2017

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month! This month is all about education and spreading awareness of the impact of domestic violence in our community. To kick it if off we want our Prevention, Community Education, and Awareness Program to tell you a little bit about their department, and how education is paving the way for prevention of domestic violence.

Our Prevention, Community Education, and Awareness Program counters domestic violence and sexual assault through educational and professional programs starting in pre-K. By teaching things like respect for boundaries, effective communication, how to recognize unhealthy behaviors, and recognizing and understanding what to do when someone does something unsafe or unhealthy, we work to prevent future violence. 

Despite our best efforts, we know that abuse is still happening in our community, and there is still a lot of work to be done. We host awareness events throughout the year, but our main focuses are Domestic Violence Awareness Month (October) and Sexual Assault Awareness Month (April). Not only do we raise awareness of just how common these issues are, but we educate the community on what to do, if they or someone they know is confronted with domestic violence and sexual assault.  By educating the community, we're encouraging individuals to not turn away from the signs of abuse they may see in a friend or family member and instead encourage that person to get help and reach out. We also address common myths about domestic violence and sexual assault making it safer for those who have been affected to come forward and seek help.  

Without an understanding of the dynamics of abuse, it's often difficult for well-meaning professionals such as law enforcement and CPS to take the right course of action to help someone. For example, they may mistakenly assume that the victim is actually the perpetrator of abuse due to manipulations by the abuser. Perpetrators of intimate partner violence and sexual assault often have multiple victims in their lifetime. If someone recognizes the abuse and stops them, the perpetrators can be sent to a BIPP program where they'll learn healthy coping mechanisms. We rely on professionals such as law enforcement to recognize the signs of abuse and refer the victim and perpetrator to the appropriate services, but doing so requires an understanding of the dynamics of abuse. 

While activists in the field of sexual assault and intimate partner violence have been advocating and educating for centuries, prevention education like our program is relatively new. Take Back the Night, a yearly march to raise awareness of sexual assault, began in the sixties and still continues today. In 1981, the first Domestic Violence Awareness Week was celebrated. In the nineties, a push for prevention education in schools began, but in many places such education remains optional. Last year, we presented over 900 presentations to over 25,000 people, and have even bigger plans for the future. Our team is expanding and with legislation like Texas HB 1342, which would make sexual assault prevention education mandatory starting in kindergarten, and the growing awareness of the importance of prevention education we hope to continue to present in more schools and bring awareness to the entire community. 

Guest Author: Nicole Owens, Community Educator 

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The Taste for a Cause Experience

Posted on September 15, 2017

Don't miss out on the fun- join us at Taste for a Cause! 

Get Tickets

So you've heard a lot about Taste for a Cause so far- how we will have an auction and a distillery tour. But what are the REAL details of the event? Check out what is going to make Taste for a Cause an experience to remember! 

BONNIE AND NICK NORRIS 

Like fun fiddle music? While you sip your hand crafted cocktails Bonnie and Nick Norris will serenade you with upbeat and energetic music. They have quite a following- you get to see why! 

CREATIVE CUISINE 

Get a taste of Denton County with the elaborate spread at Taste for a Cause! We partnered with some of your favorites.. 

  • Boca 31- Tasty ceviche shooters and a taco station 

  • Hannah's on the Square- A gourmet spread of eclectic bites 

  • Fresco's-  Crispy brisket taquitos and chicken flautas with guacamole ranch 

  • Rachel's Riding Lawn Mower- Gourmet french fries with a ketchup flight! 

  • Prohibition Chicken- Chicken oysters (basically fancy chicken nuggets)  

And more...  

These fun bites pair perfectly with Witherspoon Distillery hand crafted cocktails! 

EXPERIENCES 

Ever been to an auction where the most "exciting" thing they had was a gift card to a restaurant? Not here! Our silent and live auction items are packaged to be full experiences for you to share with your friends and family. Here is a sneak peak.. 

  • A Slice of Paradise- Take in a full week of sunshine at a luxury Mexican resort! Swim up bars, massages sent straight to your room, crystal clear waters and beautiful golf courses- priceless. 

  • Fun Flight- Hop on a Delta Charlies flight with your favorite person for a private flight tour over Dallas paired with a three course meal! 

  • Sips- Wine and dine with your whole group of friends (up to 20 people!) with tasty bites to pair with your drinks 

And that's just the preview!  

Don't miss out on the fun- join us at Taste for a Cause! 

Get Tickets

WHAT YOU'RE SUPPORTING 

Of course, Taste for a Cause will be a fun-filled event but even more it's an opportunity to show your support for women and children who are victims of sexual and domestic violence right here in our community. Your support ensures we can continue providing comprehensive services like emergency shelter, counseling, play therapy, legal advocacy and the ability to connect victims with resources.  Thank you for investing in safety, hope, healing, justice, and prevention! 

THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS & SUPPORTERS!  

Dennis and Daniel Bloom

The Wright Firm

Teri Watkins

Your Home Free

Wheelhouse Realty

Doug and Bonnie Robison

Regions Bank

Navarrette Bowen Family Law

Full List of Sponsors

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A Day in the Life

Posted on September 6, 2017
No matter how many statistics you memorize, imagining what actually goes on in a day in the life of a victim of domestic violence is a whole other ball game. Understanding, objectively, the effects of trauma and violence is the first step to creating a better world in which to live, but the reality of life after abuse is something completely different. Survivors know this. As many times as they may try, it can be so hard to open up to their support system(s) about the daily struggles they deal with – because they know that as much as someone may want to, how could anyone else possibly understand? 
 
 
Our theme for North Texas Giving Day is #ADayInTheLife to highlight some of those daily struggles and enable our community to better empathize with survivors of violence. While you read this blog I want to ask this of you: take off the lens through which you see the world and try to put yourself in this woman's shoes. 
 
A Day in the Life of Samantha  
30 years old, recently-divorced survivor of domestic violence 
 
Tuesday 
 
7:00 AM: You hear the alarm clock go off and sleepily hit snooze. Getting up is difficult in the mornings because you rarely sleep well. Most nights you have at least one nightmare reliving past experiences of abuse. Some nights you wake up with a jolt of anxiety after them and are unable to go back to sleep.  
 
 
8:00 AM: You pour yourself coffee while you cook your son's breakfast. He is 7 years old and has been having a hard time with the divorce. In an effort to protect him, you did everything you could to hide the abuse from him while it was happening and booked a million play dates to get him out of the house. His sweet friends' parents – he spent more nights at their houses this summer than he did at yours! But that was intentional. As a result, he does not know a lot about the abuse and does not understand why the family is not together anymore. He has become sullen and withdrawn, and you are worried about what to do. 
 
 
10:00 AM: You have dropped your son off at school and have spent the last hour at work. You hate your job, but you know that you are lucky to have it. Your ex-husband had not allowed you to work in years, so that he could keep you financially dependent upon him, so your résumé was far from impressive. The only job that you could get on short notice with little experience was at a call center, so you have the fun job of working in customer service (lucky you!).  
 
 
11:00 AM: On days like today your job is hard. REALLY HARD. You know that you perform much better at this job when you are happy and upbeat on the phone, but it is almost impossible when your depression is kicking in. Your brain feels foggy and sluggish and all you can think is – I hate this job, what was I thinking trying to go out on my own? Will I ever find someone who loves me again? Is this life any better than the one I was living before? You try to ignore these negative thoughts and get through the day, but every second there is another self-doubt on your mind and it weighs you down like an anchor. Your coworker notices and asks you what is wrong. You say you're just tired and that you will do better tomorrow. What else could you say? 
 
 
12:30 PM: It's lunch time and you make your way out of the office. You get in your car and pull out your phone to check your bank account balance. $50. Yikes. You have worked with someone to help you budget your money and spend it wisely, but with your lack of job experience there is just not a lot that you can be making. Paying rent and putting food on the table for yourself and your son takes a large toll. Looks like another day of cheap fast food. People keep telling you to eat better and take good care of yourself, that it will make you feel better. You know that they're right, but on your budget what choice do you have? 
 
 
3:30 PM: You take a quick break from work and check Facebook. On your News Feed are status updates from people you haven't spoken to in years. Your ex-husband pretty quickly cut you off from your friends and family after the wedding. You have spent years feeling isolated and dependent, without having anyone you truly call a friend. If you ever dared to reach out to someone and get connected again, you knew there would be retribution waiting at home, so you didn't. You scroll down and come across the update from your former best friend – she just got engaged! You want to post some congratulations and yearn to reach out but are too embarrassed to know where to start. How could you explain to her why you cut her off before; would she even want to be your friend again? 
 
 
5:00 PM: FINALLY! You bolt out of the office and make your way to your son's school. You are starting to feel a little better that you got through the day and look forward to spending some time with your son. When you walk in the classroom to pick him up his teacher stops you and asks for a few minutes of your time. For the next 10 minutes, she tells you about some behavioral problems your son has been exhibiting. She is concerned that he may be depressed and asks if everything is okay at home. You tell her about the divorce but leave out the abuse. Teachers are mandatory reporters, right? If there is any sign of abuse anywhere near a child, aren’t they required by law to report it to CPS? You're not sure exactly of the rules, but you know that there is no way you will ever put yourself in a position to lose custody. Your son is all that you have and vice versa; no one is taking him away because of the choices that your ex-husband made. Whatever needs to be done to help him, you feel like you have to do it alone. 
 
 
6:00 PM: You are home and cooking dinner. You try not to let yourself go there, but your mind keeps wandering back to what the teacher was telling you. Is my son depressed? Is he angry with me for leaving his father? He must be so confused. And then the worst thought – is this my fault? Did I do this to him and cause him this pain? Did I make the wrong choice? 
 
 
Survivors of domestic violence are at high risk for depression and anxiety, which makes all these little bumps feel drastically harder with which to deal. This is why Friends of the Family is here! We are here to walk a client and their son through counseling and play therapy and start working through some of that depression or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. We are here to provide food from our pantry so that they can eat healthy foods and take care of themselves. Our advocates are here to walk through CPS reporting and begin connecting them with opportunities to provide for themselves and their children. No one deserves to be abused, and for anyone who has or is experiencing these things – it is NOT your fault! 
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Welcome Cassandra!

Posted on August 30, 2017

It is our pleasure to introduce the newest member of our Prevention, Community Education, and Awareness Department - Cassandra Berry!

Cassandra is the Our Community Matters Program Coordinator.  The Our Community Matters Program (OCMP) is focused on providing community education and awareness information/events to the often underserved population of African-American victims and survivors of family violence, domestic violence, or dating violence and their children in the Denton County community.  

Each ethnicity or race has its own unique personality and inclination (or not) towards the therapeutic and healing process.  As service providers, it is our job to recognize these sensitivities as well as any barriers we contribute that might hinder a successful outcome. The OCMP is designed to help discuss these sensitivities and barriers in a genuine and validating way; this program hopes to shine light onto statistics and conversations that are often not discussed. This program can’t thrive without community partnerships and stakeholders such as churches, businesses, schools, etc.  

Cassandra would love to tell you more about Denton County Friends of the Family and the Our Community Matters Program. If you would be interested in scheduling a time to meet in person about the overall purpose of this program or any additional services we provide, or if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, she’d be happy to answer them. 

Cassandra can be contacted at CBerry@dcfof.org or 940-387-5131 x241. 

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