As I look back on 2021 and JBWS’ milestone of celebrating its 45th year of saving and changing lives, I marvel at how our staff, clients, and community continued to manage through the ongoing stops and starts brought on by COVID. Staff maintained critical services while applying stringent health and safety measures all while they isolated at home with an overloaded remote network – not to mention kids to take care of, elderly relatives to worry about, and their own anxiety to deal with. I continue to be humbled by the resiliency and strength of our clients, our staff, and our community.
COVID has made us a more resilient and agile organization. While our residential programs continued to operate 24/7, we also continued to successfully engage clients and our community through a hybrid of virtual and in-person platforms:
- Legal advocates offered help navigating a complicated virtual court process.
- Counselors provided individual trauma-informed support and group counseling with survivors of violence and those who chose to use abuse respectively.
- JBWS domestic violence trainers and educators offered our youth and community-at-large information on how to prevent domestic violence from negatively impacting their lives.
- Our dedicated volunteers continued to creatively support our staff and survivors.
- Our Crisis Response Team volunteers saw an increase in responding in-person to police stations and hospitals.
Internal communication, maintaining residential facilities, and client and staff wellness remained a priority. Extraordinary efforts were made to keep staff operational, engaged, and most of all, healthy while delivering high-quality services and support to families impacted by domestic violence. We applied for and successfully received funding to upgrade the kitchens and bathrooms in our Transitional Living apartments and replaced the flooring in the Safe House. We applied for and successfully received funding to create a Vice President position focused on human resources, our equity and inclusion practices, and promoting a culture that supports employee wellness.
Our leadership team came together monthly to strategize on how to best support our staff and each other through the ripple effect of continued racial injustices in our society, ravages of a pandemic, and staffing shortages from “The Great Resignation.” We have enhanced our internal and external communications, increased our transparency, and are not afraid to admit what we don’t know. This is why we enlisted the help of a consultant to enhance our lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion both in the work that we do with survivors and the environment we foster for our staff.
The community has remained steadfast in its support of JBWS and our clients. Our Board has prioritized sustaining the organization by developing a formal process of Board succession planning through the lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Our award-winning fundraising events continued to garner the necessary support from donors and supporters old and new to fund programs and services critical to the mission of the organization.
We are still learning. I believe that it is imperative to always find ways to improve our policies and practices while remaining true to our mission. The pandemic has created an environment with brand-new challenges, but we have learned to be flexible by design, as opposed to adapting only when there is a crisis.
In 2022, JBWS will continue to harness the passion and strength of a community of dedicated staff, volunteers, donors, and survivors to move in synchronized efforts to overcome any obstacle in our path. Join us.
Diane M. Williams, MSW, LCSW
President & CEO