Wellspring - Ending relationship and sexual abuse in Saratoga County


Mission, Vision, & History

Supporting survivors and engaging our community to end relationship and sexual abuse.

Wellspring is the domestic violence and sexual assault services resource for Saratoga County residents and the sexual assault services resource for Washington County residents. Wellspring’s mission is to support survivors and engage our community to end relationship and sexual abuse. Our vision is a community free of relationship and sexual abuse.

During the late 1970’s, a group of concerned community members saw a need to help women and children in our community who were victims of domestic abuse, and championed our community’s response to domestic violence. By 1982, these residents formed the Task Force Against Domestic Violence (later re-named Domestic Violence Services, then DVRC, then Wellspring). Initially the agency was entirely volunteer-based, with 20 very dedicated volunteers (and a first year budget of less than $500). These volunteers offered support, transportation, clothing and financial assistance to women and children fleeing abuse. They staffed a hotline offering crisis intervention, counseling, information, and referral services. By opening their own homes to families in crisis, they coordinated a network of safe homes to provide emergency shelter for women and children. As word spread, the demand for services increased; and a paid staff position was created.

By 1992, Domestic Violence Services had earned a positive reputation for serving victims of relationship violence, advocating for their legal rights and providing support to ensure their safety. Because sexual assault victims often have similar counseling and support needs, we merged with Saratoga Rape Crisis, thus enjoying an economy of scale with regard to resources, expenses and the ability to use staff more effectively.

In 1995, with extensive support from the community, we relocated our shelter to its current confidential location in a residential neighborhood. The agency takes great pride in maintaining a beautiful, homelike environment that adapts itself to the unique needs of each family seeking safety and respite.

The program continued to add staff and services to better serve those with whom we work. This included supporting victims during forensic rape exams, helping victims navigate the often confusing criminal and civil legal system, and providing linkage to resources and support services that help them live free from abuse.

In 1999, DVRC implemented one of the first sexual assault forensic examination (SAFE) programs in New York State. The SAFE program is an integral component in our community’s response to crimes of sexual victimization.

Consistent with our mission, promoting safety for all family members is a priority. Therefore, in 1999, we added a youth program offering counseling and education and support groups for children and adolescents who have experienced domestic violence, dating violence and/or sexual assault. Children exposed to violence at home may experience difficulties in school, struggle with interpersonal relationships or feelings of low self-esteem and may be at increased risk of abusing drugs or alcohol. However, intervention can help children overcome the effect of these traumas.

Sadly, abusers often use the love we have for our family pets as a tool of coercion or may directly abuse the pets. Therefore in 1999, Leadership Saratoga helped us implement our Safe Pet Partnership, which provides medical care and temporary homes to pets that have been abused or neglected due to violence in the home. Volunteer foster families provide pets with a temporary loving home while the family transitions to violence-free living …at which time they are reunited.

Increasingly we find that the inability to provide for the family’s basic needs is a primary reason why victims are unable to leave the abuse. Finding the financial resources to ensure the family has adequate food, housing and medical care is a daunting task. To address this, we have developed programs to promote self-sufficiency. In 2004 we launched Project Hope and Power, a collaboration between Wellspring and Soroptimist International of Saratoga County, to help women improve their financial skills and their employment capabilities. In 2007 we began two housing programs that provide safe housing to families and help them become self-sufficient.

Overall, our vision is a community free of relationship and sexual abuse therefore we must do social change work that prevents abuse from happening in the first place. To achieve this goal, we coordinate primary prevention activities as well as offer education programs to over 1,500 school-aged youths each year. Additionally, we partner with area colleges to engage students in activities designed to change the campus culture into one that protects all students from relationship and sexual abuse.

There is an ever-growing need for our services. Each year, we provide over 2,600 bed nights of shelter to adults and children fleeing abuse. Our staff assists over 1,000 adults and children each year to attain increased safety. While helping victims in need is a major focus of our mission, we know that only by increasing awareness can we end intimate partner violence.

 

 

 


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