PO Box 441
Hood River, OR 97031
August 2015 Vol. 3
Summertime at the Shelter
The Gorge is a summertime playground for so many families who come to windsurf, mountain bike, or raft down the whitewater of the White Salmon. While so many families are at play, too many others are struggling just to stay safe. At Helping Hands women’s shelter, the Gorge is a place where survivors of domestic violence (and their children) seek safety and respite from their formerly abusive life.
Why does domestic violence increase in the summer? There are no excuses but there are a few reasons: It’s hot which creates more irritability, children are around more often which creates more stress, and alcohol consumption increases which creates more opportunity for misbehaviors. Unfortunately, all open the door to more abuse.
Summertime at Helping Hands, a non-profit for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, is often quite busy—our shelter is always full, not only with survivors but also their children. And when we are full, it pains us to turn away families because of a lack of space. We hope for more space, yet realize the irony of that hope.
With so many families living in such close quarters, it is often difficult for survivors to find time to focus on their critical needs such as counseling, filing restraining orders, and searching for housing, among other things. The children are often left to entertain themselves which comes in the form of a videos, or a donated Wii game. Outside play comes in the form of a simple backyard swing set. Last week, a box of sidewalk chalk brought the kids an afternoon of joy.
This summer, thanks to a grant from Verizon, things are starting to brighten up a bit. Jayce Tappert, our health educator and prevention coordinator, has been working with a few volunteers to develop fun diversions for the shelter children periodically throughout the week. Even if we can provide children with one or two healthy, fun, educational, and interactive activities a week, the children find a bit of joy out of summer and the survivors find time to focus on themselves—whatever it is that they need to do to help them move towards a safe and independent life for themselves and their children.
Small steps, but moving in the right direction.
Executive Director Helping Hands Against Violence
PS: The services of our advocates are always free of charge. If there is someone you know who might benefit in talking with us, please give them our number: 541.386.4808. Or our crisis line—541.386.6602—is answered 24/7. We are here for you. More information on our services or how to support us can be found at www.helpinghandsoregon.com