It’s 3:30 AM on a Tuesday when the first call comes to Turning Points Network, the crisis center for Sullivan County, followed by two more emergency calls logged in before the offices open at 9:00 AM.
On this particular day, 416 calls, emails and texts are received, answered and initiated that range in intensity from impending homelessness to help with filing a court order to questions about domestic violence and safety planning, legal options and resources available to survivors.
Rachel begins her day advocating for a mom and her young daughter who are coping with the trauma of the daughter’s sexual abuse, needing help with court paperwork and finding a therapist for support. She later accompanies another survivor to her court hearing.
A young woman requires help from Advocate Lynn with her divorce filing and how to access resources for food insecurity for herself and her children. There is also a car registration issue that needs resolution before an additional survivor will be able to seek employment.
Along with answering the crisis line for half the day, Advocate Julia spends four hours on the phone assisting eight domestic and sexual abuse survivors with financial empowerment training, upcoming court hearings, transitional housing and peer support. That same evening she co-leads a community workshop on healthy and unhealthy relationships.
Senior Advocate Michelle follows up with a survivor whose restraining order has been denied, helps with fuel and electric utility assistance applications, speaks with a landlord on the renter’s behalf and counsels another survivor on how to take care of herself, emotionally.
These interactions are but a few of the human relationship and legal complexities that get sorted out at Turning Points Network every day for the approximately 1000 women, children and men who contact us each year for information, support and services.
Office Manager Beth directs calls and incoming emails while distributing mail, compiling time slips, addressing invoices and general inquiries, and filing the documentation of each survivor assist.
Executive Director Deb checks in with Sam, the manager of Changes Boutique and Thrift, a wholly-owned subsidiary of TPN which helps support our survivor services; Deb finishes an Our Turn column and meets with the architect for our Broad Street building, a gift from the Pierzchala family, which we are raising funds to renovate for new offices. She also works on financial reports for the Payroll Protection Plan, speaks with two major donors and assists a survivor as well as meeting with Accounting Manager Danielle about the annual audit.
AmeriCorps VISTA member Caitlin works on a marketing project while Violence Prevention Educator Kerry presents two age-appropriate versions of 10 Signs of Heathy and Unhealthy Relationships at a local school. Kerry will also co-lead a community workshop on the same topic that evening via Zoom.
Programs Director Amanda is preparing for the county-wide monthly Sexual Assault Resource Team meeting that TPN co-chairs, she picks up a donation of several pieces of furniture for our emergency shelter, updates the weekly shelter schedule and makes arrangements for the professional cleaning of an apartment that a shelter guest will be moving into shortly.
Advocate Alesha spends half her day providing support for shelter guests while cleaning the meeting space, and organizing and restocking the shelter refrigerator, the pantry and the linens; and the other half in our Claremont office addressing case management and preparing for a weekly support group of incarcerated individuals at the Sullivan County House of Corrections.
Throughout all of this day’s activity – which deals with the most intense of human emotions as well as the myriad details that comprise effective support – a sense of calm and purpose prevails and when survivors and their children knock on our door or call or text, they are welcomed into a warm space with a safe place to tell their story and where their needs, however individual and diverse, will be met and supported.
OUR TURN is a public service series by Turning Points Network (TPN) serving all of Sullivan County with offices in Claremont and Newport. We provide wraparound supports for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, stalking and human trafficking and we present violence-prevention education programs in our schools. For more than 40 years, TPN has helped people of all ages move from the darkness of abuse toward the light of respect, healing and hope.