Terry McLaughlin: Supporting those who support others
Just over 25 years ago, fearing she would not survive another day, Sandy Escobar and her three children fled a verbally and physically abusive husband.
They moved from town to town, trying to stay ahead of her abuser, with literally no money, despite working multiple jobs. At times she thought she had no other option than to return to her abuser, but then she would look into the tiny faces of her children and know that she could not continue to expose them to this threat. Hanging on to the tiniest shred of hope, Sandy realized that she couldn’t be the only woman facing these terrible decisions, and she set her sights on not only survival for herself and her children, but helping other women in similar circumstances as well.
Sandy Escobar started an online community, creating a support group for women going through similar situations, which grew into a worldwide group of several thousand women. That was the unofficial start of the local organization our community knows as Women of Worth. Since that time it has grown into a successful support network for survivors of domestic abuse and has served hundreds of families throughout our community. It is the only dual service center in Northern California which offers both emergency and transitional services.
One of Women of Worth’s primary missions, and the purpose for its fundraising efforts, is to support Hetty’s Haven, a transitional shelter for women and their children escaping domestic violence or human trafficking. The shelter was named for Hetty Williams, a local mother of two daughters who was murdered by her husband on Oct. 22, 2005. Currently, 11 children and five women are sheltered at Hetty’s Haven.
In 2017, over 70 percent of Hetty’s Haven residents were placed into new jobs and 20 percent returned to school. These are important steps for women who have given up everything to escape an abusive situation, and this is an amazing rate of success. Women of Worth provides all services free of charge to their clients and residents, while at the same time receiving no government or taxpayer funding. Women of Worth is supported by a dedicated team of loyal volunteers and the generosity of our community.
For a number of years, the daily maintenance costs of Hetty’s Haven have been supplemented by Women of Worth’s Resale Shop, located across from the courthouse in Nevada City. This Resale Shop has been staffed primarily by volunteers and has offered the community good quality, gently used and new items, at a fraction of their original cost.
For the past year, rather than supporting Hetty’s Haven, which is the primary mission of the organization, the WOW Resale Shop has been operating at a loss. The Resale Shop has been continuously victimized by theft and shoplifting, often with groups of accomplices working together.
The large glass door at the front of the shop has been replaced twice in the past few months, due to damage and vandalism. Volunteers arriving in the morning to open the shop have been met with debris including drug paraphernalia, hypodermic needles, and human waste at both the front and back doors. Many volunteers are no longer willing to staff the shop, as they do not feel safe cleaning up this potentially dangerous human debris, nor being alone in the shop.
Nevada City and Grass Valley leaders and residents talk a lot about homelessness, criminal activity, and transients, but Women of Worth is paying a high price for these problems on a daily basis. These monetary losses and the reluctance of volunteers to fully staff the shop, give Women of Worth no choice but to close the Resale Shop at this location, which is a tremendous loss to this community. A liquidation sale of the entire store is ongoing. Call 530-264-7337 for open dates and hours, or visit them on Facebook.
Two months ago a recent resident of Hetty’s Haven sent a heartfelt letter to Sandy Escobar and the staff and volunteers of Women of Worth.
“As I am writing this, I am crying with so much thankfulness. You helped to save my life. During the time that it was all happening, I was on overdrive, in denial, and not in a mental space where I could really process everything. I could be dead right now if it was not for your help. I just spoke with my ex-husband yesterday. He confirmed that he thought in detail about killing me. He just did not have the opportunity to successfully do it and get away with it. I am so thankful to be alive. Thank you for helping to protect my life! I am also extremely thankful for the help from the women who were staying at Hetty’s Haven during the same time that I was there. I cannot even begin to express the depth of my gratitude in words. You have been a huge blessing to me and an answer to my prayers. Thank you for your service to God and to women and children in need.”
It is imperative that our community continue to support the mission of Women of Worth through donations or grants of money or services-in-kind.
We cannot let these women and children down. Women of Worth is literally saving lives everyday – and so can you.
Visit http://www.women-of-worth.org to make a donation, and visit the Resale Shop’s liquidation sale for some incredible bargains.
Terry McLaughlin, who lives in Nevada City, writes a twice monthly column for The Union. Write to her at email@example.com.
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