Local Girls Scouts Roisin Wilson, Valentia Wilson and Vivian Abston began researching ideas for projects they could complete to earn their Girls Scout Silver Award. The Silver Award is the highest honor a middle school-age Girl Scout can earn. As they researched, they were astounded to learn that one in four women are affected by domestic violence. They also learned that domestic violence does not always have to be physical, as it can also be verbal.
Roisin said to the group, “I want to help end the cycle of domestic violence.”
This is when the girls decided this issue was something they needed to speak up about. When they began to look around the community to see who was helping victims of domestic violence, they discovered Mary & Martha House.
Mary & Martha House is a domestic violence shelter in the Ruskin area that was founded in 1982. It is not only a shelter but also a full program for victims to recover from the violence and transform their lives. Mary & Martha provides individualized case management to each woman so that her needs are met, including immediate shelter, clothing and hygiene products. The caring staff and volunteers help restore confidence in its clients. The shelter allows them to bring their young children, provides emotional counseling and assists in getting jobs as well as eventually transitioning to permanent housing.
The Girl Scouts worked with Mary & Martha House to refresh its intake/training room for its clients. They repainted the room, gathered some friends to share what they learned about domestic violence, got them involved in creating inspirational art for the room and created smaller kits of toys the children could play with quietly while their moms were getting the help they needed.
“It was an eye-opening experience for each of us. During our project,” Valentia said, “I was inspired when I learned that some people we encountered in the shelter were once victims who had turned their lives around to now help others in the shelter.”
Along with this, Abston was shocked that “nearly 20 people per minute are assaulted by an intimate partner.”
There are many ways you can get involved in Mary & Martha House and join in its fight to help those suffering from domestic violence and advocate for those who can’t speak up for themselves. Mary & Martha House has a retail space that sells donated items, such as gently used furniture, housewares and clothing. Check with the shelter for donation hours, as they change seasonally. You can also sponsor a room in the shelter or donate resources to assist in continuing to help women transform their lives. Mary & Martha House is also looking for volunteers to help serve this community. For more information about how to get involved, please visit https://marymarthahouse.org/.
If you or someone you know is in an unsafe situation due to domestic violence and is not near this shelter, please reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233).