June 15th Virtual Meeting With Domestic Violence Shelter Leadership Highlights & Summary

REMINDER: June 29 2020 ZOOM with Regional Economic Development Leadership

Do the best you can until you know better, then when you know better…do better.

-Maya Angelou

Jefferson e Funders Forum
June 15th 1:00 pm
Virtual ZOOM Round Up

Jefferson Funders Forum brings together public and private philanthropic leadership to share information, perspectives and experiences; cooperatively explore and leverage resources to positively impact communities in southern Oregon and northern California.

Levels of Engagement: I. Communication and Information Sharing; II. Learning Together; III. Planning for Collective & Collaborative Action IV. Action

ZOOM Facilitator – Jen Schafer, United Way of Southwest Oregon

  • Participants Included: Bill Thorndike, NW Health Foundation; Amy Drake and John Moriarty, Oregon Community Foundation; Kathy Bryon, Larry Nicholson & Jennifer Staton, Gordon Elwood Foundation; Sam Engel & Deborah  Ameen, AllCare;  Nancy Mc Kinnis and Samantha Watson, Jackson Care Connect; Jen Shafer, United Way of SW Oregon; Carrie Hanson, Chaney, West and Dubs Family Foundations; Peter Salant, GAG Charitable Trust & Medford Schools Foundation; Matt Epstein, Epstein Family Foundation; Sara Stephens, South Coast Early Learning Hub; Gina Zottola, Wild Rivers Community Foundation; Amy Jester, Humboldt Area Foundation; Laura Olsen, Smullin Family Foundation; Kelly Bruggeman, 1st Interstate Bank Foundation; Laura Williams, Advanced Health; & Guests Barbara Johnson, Ray Dinkins, Mellanie Caldera, Melanie Prummer and Rachel Espy

I. Communication & Information Sharing: 25 attendees

Jen Welcomes and Initiates Introductions – Check-in

  • A word that reflects yours or your community’s “new normal:” Unsure, Busy, Nimble, Zoom, Divided, Change, Adjusting, Challenging-Inspired, Civic Health, Determined, Conscious, Creative (2), Ending, Intentional (3), Virtual Volunteer, Flexible, Influx, Uncertain-Not Well Communicated, “Next,” Sustainability,Adaptive, 

II.  Learning Together and Dialogue: Domestic Violence Emergency & Transitional Realities, Response, and Reshaping in the time of COVID-19. 

A Special Thanks to our guests who have generously offered to share their experience & perspectives with us today:

Barbara Johnson, Executive Director, Community Works, Jackson County

COVID-19 created a whole new reality for all community providers and particularly those that provide congregant housing. Community Works serves 3,000 client a year with emergency & transitional safe housing and support services for women and children who are fleeing domestic/partner violence. They were in the process of moving a number of clients into transitional or permanent housing as COVID hit so these women and their children were detained in the shelter. They have received an increasing number of calls that were about more than safe shelter, which has called them to identify new ways to interact and be of support. The cases of abuse have been more severe and the percentage those have gone up distressingly. They have kept the shelter open during this time, being nimble is key. Their earlier use of hotels as back up housing before COVID has now become an integral strategy for providing safety to families. This partnership with specific hotels will continue to be an emergency housing plan into the future. In the first two months of COVID restrictions, they provided 63 adults and 49 children with safe hotel housing lasting 9-10 days using community-based advocates to communicate with and between everyone. 

Ray Dinkins, Executive Director, Women’s Support Crisis Team, Josephine County

Programs have not closed for a single day. They offer three major programs, crisis intervention with 24-hour court advocacy; a safe 14 bed shelter and a school-based violence prevention program/curriculum that has been recognized by CDC and State of Oregon.  There has been an uptick in the last week in calls and interventions. They have used Zoom and phone advocacy more than face to face which allows greater flexibility for community members experiencing violence. They are responding to law enforcement calls to homes, but the hospital restrictions for COVID have not allowed them to be at the hospital for in person support. This has been hard on advocates not to be able to be in person during the exams for impact of violence. Advocates do pick up clients after the hospital exam. The lethality of the violence has increased significantly; it has been a very tough last few months and weeks. We have had concerns for people being able to ask for help while stuck at home. Cases have intensified. Use of hotels has increased; lengths of stays in emergency housing, hotels have increased. There are now barriers in leaving the current shelter, which has increased the length of stay at the shelter and that creates a backup in the current system of care. Advocates are working in the shelter and at the hotels. The Prevention Program has been impacted most significantly since the schools closed. Prevention is usually the program that goes away when resources are tight and, in this case, the set up at schools is all in flux. The WCST budget for Prevention is going under change at this time. 

Mellanie Caldera, Executive Director, Oasis Advocacy & Shelter, Curry County 

Mellanie just became the executive director as the COVID requirements started in mid-March. She had been an advocate for the program for seven years. Her staff is almost entirely new within the last six months. There is significant turnover in this field of work. Oasis runs a 14- bed shelter, which is reduced during this time to 1 person to each room and now moving to 2 per room. With no nurses available they have been transporting sexual assault victims to Coos Bay between March 1 and June 1st. They have taken their work virtual; using and giving cell phones and data plans to women as a way to track their safety and privacy. Fully remote conferencing ability. The Curry County Courthouse has been closed and the judges are working out of Coos County by video for restraining orders through Zoom. Technology has helped calls using messenger and facetime. Support groups and workshops were on hold but now using technology to do both. Expensive to move support work along this way-GED support for example has to be on hold until they can adopt an online technology capability.  Wi-Fi access poses risks for domestic violence survivors, so there is a big debate going on. Abusers can use technology to track down their partners or interfere in their worlds of banking, communications and other things. One has to be very careful. A recent highlight is the recent graduation from college of a prior Oasis client. 

They have provided 62 one-night safe motel stays, and 2 longer term motel stays. Everyone who needs longer shelter time has to have a 14 -day quarantine in a motel until moving into the shelter. The number of third-party calls has skyrocketed. Neighbors hearing violence happen next door or in neighborhood. This creates an opening for helping someone away from abuse, but also tricky in order to maintain confidentiality of the callers and the individuals who may be experiencing violence. 

Melanie Prummer, Executive Director, Peace at Home Advocacy & Shelter, Douglas Co.

Peace at Home serves 1,300 people a year with six service teams, six programs, two shelters, and a transitional housing unit. They are in process of planning another transitional housing unit. Since Melanie has military background, she felt equipped to quickly respond to the COVID response and requirements. They stuck to their guiding principles and determined the involvement of staff and immediately implemented use of face shields and masks for serving people directly. The provided cell phones to clients to use for 30 days so they could be in contact for support. They were involved in getting 3-5 restraining orders a day set up. The Courthouse furloughed, they have had increased law enforcement calls; violence in Douglas County has been escalating; an increase in sexual assault calls, they are coming in weekly and sometimes multiple calls in a week when before COVID it might be a call a month or one every 2 months. They have 22 advocates on staff to respond, and have posted the emergency crisis phone number on posters around town. They have lost over $100,000 in fundraising event funds since the lock down began and with the State contracts up in the air Melanie is looking ahead to managing a sustainable future.  

Rachel Espy, Executive Director, The Safe Project, Coos County

The Safe Project serves 900-1000 people a year with services. COVID 19 brought a number of difficult issues to the scene in Coos County: layoffs, a reoccurrence of emotions for survivors of abuse and violence, trauma, financial abuse as it relates to access to government relief checks. Lots of neighbors are calling as mentioned by Mellanie, requiring additional confidentiality struggles so that future relationships neighbors are not compromised. They use two hotels as back up for safety. They have held a “not everyone is safer at home” campaign to be a way to help protect and support survivors. They use a Crisis TEXT line for Advocates to connect with survivors or individuals who are threatened. A third of their annual funding is from fundraising. Wondering how long with the COVID requirements go on? They provide more than Crisis support, prevention and pathways to sustainability for clients to move into their new lives. They plan to move into supported housing that would last for up to two years. 


  • There are technology use rules for domestic violence shelters and programs that limit what shelters/programs can do, even though the rules are based on old technology. 
  • It would be good to offer support groups by video to reduce the cost and obstacle of driving and childcare. 
  • Hotel costs and food box delivery needs more sustainable financial support as a strategy for keeping families safe. 
  • Technology is a challenge at this time in order to be compliant with funders. 

What are ways that this group of funders can support Domestic Violence Programs beyond dollars:

  • We met with Governor Brown and some of our State Representatives several weeks ago and our response to them and our community partners is help us spread the word that services are available. 
  • Gov. Brown made a comment on Tweeter about DV/SA services being available across the State. 
  • We could create messages that include advocates being available 24/7, opportunities that people can give (e.g. donations, volunteer, etc.) and community members can find out how they can connect a neighbor, friend, peer, etc. 
  • I do believe you and your group have an opportunity to speak to legislators and county commissioners about the disparity of funds to provide sustainable housing and services for survivors of domestic violence.  Our Oregon legislator last year allocated, a one time, fund for survivor housing.  These funds were allocated to our respective agencies to help with permeant housing and advocacy services.  It is a start, and it felt like for the first time the legislator was taking action to allow us to move from a business of “crisis intervention” to one that would include “stability, sustainable, and prevention” model.  Unfortunately, due to the state deficit, we are at risk of losing most of these funds.   Additionally, as a onetime fund, we may not get the dollars back again.  
  • I believe that if our organizations were given the opportunity, resources, and voice at the table, we would have the tools to help survivors redefine their future.  
  • We need consistent funding at the state and national level that will have a lasting impact for survivors and our communities.  

2:30 Adjourned Jen closed the meeting by thanking our guests and participants. 

Notes Respectfully submitted by 
Kathy Bryon & Jennifer Staton
Gordon Elwood Foundation