Worthy of Honor and Deserving of Respect

Worthy of Honor and Deserving of Respect

Dear Friends,   When most people think of Sheltering Wings, they think of our role as a safe haven for victims of domestic violence. And yes, that’s a major part of why we exist. But what’s just as important is our other roles. Let me spotlight two of those. The first is that we’re a community clearinghouse for all the services and resources that help women escape and recover from abuse. From education, to employment, to emotional resources like counseling and support groups, to parenting support, financial know-how, and help recovering from addiction, we’re a central resource for everything they need. We’ve helped thousands of families who never walked through our doors. The second is our focus on preparing women for their new lives, giving them the information and support they need to create safe and independent lives that are free from abuse. Through personalized case management, support groups, and many of the resources mentioned above, we help women find freedom and long-term stability for themselves and for their children. Our deepest hope is that each person will experience a transformation that will change who she is today and who she’ll be every tomorrow for the rest of her life. She’ll know that she is a person of value, worthy of honor, and deserving of respect. The support you provide does so much more than provide safe shelter for a woman. You’ve helped us make permanent changes in thousands of lives. Thank you for your continued support! Abiding in Him, Cassie Martin Executive...
A Big Step in Eliminating Domestic Violence

A Big Step in Eliminating Domestic Violence

Dear Friends, When February arrives, your thoughts may turn to love. After all, the month’s major holiday is Valentine’s Day. At Sheltering Wings, our thoughts turn to teenagers. That’s because February is also Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. If teens can begin their dating years knowing the difference between healthy and abusive relationships, they’re less likely to encounter problems in their adult years. Our staff frequently goes into schools and church youth groups to talk with teens about healthy dating relationships, and one of the most important conversations we have is about boundaries. It’s a great subject for parents to discuss, too. We emphasize the importance of communication in establishing healthy boundaries, urging teens to speak up when something bothers them instead of holding it in, to respect their partner’s wishes and feelings, and if disagreements arise, how to compromise in fair, constructive ways. We urge them to offer reassurance and encouragement, because healthy relationships are about building each other up. And we stress the importance of respecting each other’s privacy and personal space. Dating shouldn’t be a 24-hour activity. Boundaries aren’t signs of secrecy or distrust. In fact, they’re the very opposite. They express what makes us comfortable, provide guidelines for the relationship, and protect our individuality. Dating is new territory for teens, and it creates a lot of uncertainty. By taking the time to talk with the teens in your life about healthy relationships, you’re increasing the chances that they’ll have positive experiences and be able to protect themselves when something isn’t right. It may seem small, but it’s a big step in eliminating domestic violence from...
Christmas is About Hope

Christmas is About Hope

Dear Friends, Christmas is about many things. It’s about family and giving. It’s about fellowship and cherished traditions. It’s about sharing. And, it’s even about those amazing once-a-year cookies. But most of all, Christmas is about hope. It’s about God’s greatest gift to the world He created and the hope that baby in the manger offers us all. Hope is central to our work at Sheltering Wings. Every time we watch the news or read the paper, it seems we see stories about the cruelty of domestic violence. Those stories may test our faith and leave us feeling distraught, dismayed and hopeless. That’s perfectly understandable. Yet, when you work with the ladies who are staying at Sheltering Wings, hope isn’t just a concept. It’s something you watch take shape every day. I thought about that while talking with Samantha the other day. Here’s a woman who was abused physically and sexually by her parents when she was a little girl, and who wound up in a marriage with another abuser. Her childhood included being raped and strangled by the two people who were supposed to protect and nurture her. Is it any wonder she stumbled through life with no sense of self-worth? And today? “I am confident, worthy, beautiful, strong, single-minded, self-maintained and I can make healthy decisions now.” Samantha’s confidence and joy are contagious. For the first time in her life, she understands love, feels hope, and has created a relationship with God. Samantha and her daughter have a beautiful future ahead of them. No, it won’t be easy to overcome the legacy of her abuse, but with...
Could you be genuinely thankful?

Could you be genuinely thankful?

Dear Friends, Could you be thankful after you’ve lost everything? Imagine you lost your home and all your possessions. Your marriage evaporated, too, so you lost your identity as a wife. The only things you have are yourself and cab fare that was a gift from a generous police officer. Could you be genuinely thankful? Tiana is. She spent 40 years building a marriage and keeping a home. She raised five children who brought 19 wonderful grandchildren to her. Sounds like a dream? More like a nightmare. You see, Tiana’s husband was abusive. It started with insults and verbal abuse as he plunged into addiction. Then it became physical threats, which were soon followed by actual physical violence. One day, Tiana woke up on the floor in a daze. She had regained consciousness after having been strangled. That was the day she decided she had enough. She moved into her sister’s home, but her husband arrived with a gun and sent threatening texts. He sold her clothes and possessions, and what he couldn’t sell, he burned. Thanks to the police officer, she took a cab to Sheltering Wings. All she had when she arrived was deodorant, soap, a comb, and a hairbrush. Now she’s in counseling and attending classes on empowerment and other topics to help her establish a safe, independent life. She says Sheltering Wings is restoring a gift her parents gave her, but her husband took away: her self-esteem. And she’s so thankful that she says she longs for the day when she can donate money to the shelter in appreciation for the work we do. I’m...
I’m Worth More

I’m Worth More

“I realize that I am worth more than what my past allowed me to be.” Dear Friends, “I was eight years old. I felt that the way somebody loves you is to molest you.” Her name is Donika, and her story of abuse begins with that criminal act. If you’re already horrified, know that it gets worse. “We didn’t know it wasn’t right because it was our father,” she explains. “We believed that it was right.” Six years later, she found what she thought was love with a 28-year-old man. “I got pregnant at age 14. I had no clue. He gave me everything I wanted and needed, so I felt like he was different than my dad. It didn’t register that I was being sexually abused by him until I was pregnant and the police came to my house.” You’d hope her story stopped there, but like so many women, her view of love and relationships was shaped by her experiences. Through no fault of her own, she slipped into a cycle of self-loathing and self-destruction. Without any support system or real help, she stumbled from abusive relationship to abusive relationship. Her only solace was her children, but the darkness eventually led her to believe there was no hope. A failed suicide attempt led to a desperate call to a place called Sheltering Wings. Here, Donika received the support and resources she never had. We know that empowering women and promoting independence and stability for their families decreases the likelihood they’ll return to abuse. And just as important, we helped Donika love herself again. “I’m stronger. I realize that...
You Gave Us Dignity, Friendship and Kindness

You Gave Us Dignity, Friendship and Kindness

Dear Friends, “Thank you for taking care of us, being a warm jacket when we were cold, and showing us the love of Christ through your actions.” You may remember listening in Sunday School to the parables Jesus used to explain important concepts to those around Him. Those parables continue to guide us 2,000 years later, because their messages are so clear and relevant. Take Matthew 25: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.” When Danette wrote that Sheltering Wings was “a warm jacket when we were cold,” she was expressing a similar message. Yes, Sheltering Wings is a place that provides shelter to women and children who are victims of domestic violence. But for those who share our faith, we’re something more. The services we provide are exactly what Jesus meant when He called upon us to serve those in need. When we embrace those in need and fear, we’re embracing Him. Danette and her three-year-old son stayed with us for just a couple days, but that brief interval was critical for them. We provided protection from their abuser, but she wrote that we gave her more than safety. “You gave us dignity, friendship, and kindness.” Safe from danger, she was able to look at her life and plan for a better way to live. I’m happy to report that she and her son are doing well. We never know how an opportunity to serve God will appear before us, or what form it may...