REACH began in 1981 as the Waltham Battered Women Support Committee, Inc., founded by a committed group of volunteers who saw the need for domestic violence services in the western suburbs of Boston and decided to take action. These women recognized that domestic violence was not a problem limited to urban areas or specific socioeconomic groups. Over the years, we have grown from this small, volunteer-led effort to a leading multi-service agency serving 6,000 people a year. We changed our name to REACH – an acronym for Refuge, Education, Advocacy, and CHange – in 2004 to better reflect our inclusive approach.
In the late 1990s, we became one of the first shelters in the state to accept male survivors and parents with teenage sons and we continued this trend toward inclusivity when, in 2002, we became the first mainstream domestic violence agency in the Commonwealth to begin serving gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender survivors. Since 2005, we have been at the front of the curve in teen dating violence prevention as one of the only programs in the state offering youth-focused programming. In 2010, we reached an important milestone when we completed our $2.5 million capital campaign, which allowed us to open a new shelter facility with twice as much space as before. In the past 10 years, the agency has tripled in size – in staff, budget, and the number of people served.