To begin, what does Courage Connection do and what is your organization’s ultimate goal?
Courage Connection helps victims and survivors of domestic violence rebuild their lives. Our ultimate go
al is to change the community, change the world, and put ourselves out of business because we believe that every person is entitled to respect and dignity, and if we treated each other that way, then so many things that are going wrong on a day-to-day basis just wouldn’t happen anymore.
What is a challenge your organization faces to meet your mission?
One of the challenging things for Courage Connection faces is that many high school and college students do not know what abuse is. These individuals later find themselves in very tough situations that they did not know they were getting into. It is terrifying because I see so many young students experience tragic things, but they think it is normal because it has happened to a friend. But just because it is your normal, it doesn’t make it okay. Normal doesn’t mean it is not abuse.
Taking a step towards community outreach right now, what advice would you give someone who knows a victim of domestic abuse?
Come to the family and friend’s support group and learn about how the language that you’re using can make an impact on the victim. Words can cause tremendous pain and harm if we are not careful. If there is someone in your life that you are concerned about, educate yourself first. Secondly, if someone comes forward, believe them. Believe them. Believe them and don’t judge them. There is nothing that anyone can do to feel intimidated. There is nothing that anyone can do to deserve to be isolated or afraid. There is nothing that anyone can do to deserve to be strangled, stabbed, or beaten. It is not their fault, and the person who is responsible for these actions is committing a crime. Look for ways to educate your community by talking about domestic abuse. Ask one another about the emotions felt when abuse appears on the news or happens to someone in the community. If you see that people are not educated about the topic, invite us to talk to your clubs and friends. Community and education are the most powerful elements. If we are not talking about it, we cannot fix it.
Are there any words that come to mind when you think about the Junior League?
Community. Initiative. Passion. And new beginnings. A lot of people join Junior League because they’re new to the community or they’re new to the profession, and they want to find a way to be connected in a way that is beneficial to the community. And so for someone who is looking for a fresh start in their own life, it’s a really good place to make new friends and either fight for the things you’re passionate about or to learn about things that deserve your passion that you might not have considered before.
What would you like to see from the Junior League in the future?
Something that I hear people say throughout the community is that they want to know that every dollar that they spend makes a difference. While all donations make a difference, I think large agencies that serve more people, can make a more significant impact when money and time are donated to them. I would love for everyone in Junior League and service organizations to recognize that supporting larger agencies can make a more significant impact than they realize. For example, the Junior League was able to match $30,000 because the JL stepped up and pledged to match every $30. With this effort, we were able to keep Courage Connection’s doors open. That is an incredible impact because the Junior League is here and because the Junior League believes. Sometimes $500 donations have the same kind of impact because we don’t always know what will happen tomorrow. Because Courage Connection is a large organization, I can’t tell you where your exact dollar was used, but I can tell you that, in our case, it saved lives.