Following a meeting in which domestic violence was the main topic of discussion, members of the Arizona section of the National Council of Jewish Women are mobilizing to volunteer for and be champions of the Sojourner Center.
Located in Phoenix, Sojourner Center has been providing support to women and their children who are victims of domestic violence for more than 40 years.
Each year, the Arizona NCJW holds a panel discussion to talk about issues relating to the wellbeing of women and families. This year’s panel discussion, “The Untold Stories of Domestic Violence,” featured Julie Peterson, senior director of programs at Sojourner Center.
“After hearing the shocking domestic violence statistics presented at the November meeting, NCJW members were inspired to donate items and volunteer at Sojourner Center,” said Deborah Jacobs, NCJW’s volunteer coordinator at Sojourner. “We help by volunteering at the facility and donating clothing, household items, toiletries, furniture and other items.”
On March 10, NCJW members will be volunteering their time at Sojourner’s Donation Center.
“The discussion not only … increased awareness and understanding of domestic violence, but it also sparked action with NCJW members,” said Carrie Borgen, executive director of Sojourner Center. “This weekend, a group of volunteers from NCJW will spend several hours working in the resource center, sorting donations in our warehouse and choosing items to display in our retail area.”
Sojourner’s resource center provides for all of the organization’s programs, such as crisis shelter, transitional housing, workforce development and community outreach.
“Many of those who come to our crisis shelter have fled from a highly lethal situation and arrive with only what they are wearing,” Borgen said. “We provide clothing, shoes and other necessities for them.”
In the retail area, anyone participating in Sojourner’s programs can earn vouchers to purchase items from the store.
“For those who have experienced domestic violence, it can be healing and empowering to be able to make decisions and provide for their families as they rebuild their lives,” Borgen said. “By sorting and organizing, NCJW is helping us to be the best possible stewards of our donations.”
Sojourner’s work was not new to some members of NCJW. Jacobs said she and other NCJW members have volunteered there in the past and continue to do so.
“We hope this will be the first of many ‘Done in a Day’ volunteer opportunities we offer each year,” Jacobs said.
In 2017, Jewish Family & Children’s Service announced that Sojourner Center would now operate as an affiliate subsidiary organization of JFCS, maintaining its own 501(c)(3) status. This agreement was aimed at increasing Sojourner Center’s efficiency and effectiveness, and position JFCS as a leading domestic violence services provider in Arizona.
“Some of our members were aware of this alliance,” Jacobs said. “Sojourner Center is one of the nation’s largest and longest-running domestic violence shelters, so some of our members may have been [more] aware of the program based on this fact.”
Borgen was less familiar with NCJW, but is now thrilled to have it as a new ally.
“I knew of NCJW, but did not fully understand all that they did as change-makers in our community,” Borgen said. “I am truly grateful that they have become champions for Sojourner Center and those who are most vulnerable.”
Helping Sojourner Center is a natural fit for NCJW, Jacobs said, as both groups’ mission statements align in key areas.
“Sojourner recognizes that domestic violence is not just a women’s crisis but a public health crisis that impacts the entire family,” Jacobs said. “Solutions to the domestic violence problem must involve not just sheltering but broadening the solution to advocacy, education, and community alliances.
“NCJW recognizes that issue awareness is key, action is crucial and advocacy is essential to making positive social change. We are inspired by Sojourner’s work to combat the horrific and ongoing domestic violence crisis.” JN