This board sits on the wall of an office at our emergency shelter. It is one of the ways that the team keeps track of calls for support and services that come in – day and night – on our 24/7 hotline. Isabel, our Director of Residential Programs tallied them up and shared that in March alone, we received over 150 calls from survivors who needed a space at our shelter – a monthly total that is not uncommon throughout the year.
With an 8-room shelter that can accommodate up to 24 people, it is impossible for us to meet that need. On any given day, every room in our shelter is filled. When we do have a space, it is immediately filled by one of the hundreds of callers we get each month. Every day, our shelter team is working with shelter guests to secure safe, stable, and long-term housing. The faster we can help a survivor find a place to call their own, the sooner they can begin to truly heal. And the sooner we have a room available for one of the 150+ callers seeking shelter every month.
The lack of shelter beds is not a problem specific to REACH. In fact, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, there are only 30 domestic violence programs that provide emergency shelter –that’s fewer than 200 beds across the entire state. The need for safe housing far exceeds what is available. Saying no repeatedly is not ideal, and it is hard for the team to be unable to offer a space, but it is a reality that we face every day. When we cannot provide shelter, we offer to support the caller in other ways. From advocacy to referrals, we do the best we can to assist every caller with their most immediate needs.
For the survivors who are staying at our shelter, we strive to make it a comfortable, home-like environment, with staff who provide compassionate counseling and practical aid. When a family – of one or many – moves in, they receive new bedding, towels, and toiletries. Many survivors arrive with nothing but the clothes on their back, so we try to keep our shelter stocked with plenty of supplies. Once a survivor secures safe housing and is ready to move on, we invite them to take the items they have been using during their stay, and we provide them with other essentials that a family may need when moving into a new place.
With this ongoing turnover, we are regularly restocking our inventory. And we need your help to keep the shelter stocked with bedding, towels, and other essentials so we can meet the needs of current shelter guests and those who will come tomorrow. And the next day. And the next month. Please consider donating essential items through our Amazon wish list. Shipping items directly to REACH is a helpful way to provide tangible support for survivors fleeing domestic violence.
Fostering safety and support while promoting healthy relationships for individuals and communities takes all of us. REACH is here to provide the tools that empower community members to be agents of change, and we need all of you to create a movement. Thank you for your support.