Wellspring - Ending relationship and sexual abuse in Saratoga County


News & Events

Pausing to Answer a Hard Question

I was talking to a friend last week who has done quite a bit of global travel, and much volunteer work helping in third world countries. It was International Women's Day so our conversation turned to topics of women's equality. As we discussed  some of the gender-based injustices she has seen that are commonplace in other parts of the world, we both agreed that we are blessed to live where we do. The she asked me a question that challenged me and made me pause to think before responding, "When you compare what we in the US refer to as gender-based violence, e.g., date and acquaintance rape, sexual harassment in the workplace, or being objectified in the media, to what women worldwide are subjected to, e.g., honor killings, forced child brides, sex trafficking, genital mutilation, does it ever feel to you like we've got 'first world problems' that don't deserve this much attention?"


Hmmm... how to respond? Yes, the life experience of women in war torn countries, in third world countries, in many parts of the world has a level of brutality and injustice that is unthinkable to us. But  does that mean that our efforts to expose discrimination, to address injustice and to work toward equality are frivolous or self-indulgent? They are not. As the old adage says, 'a rising tide raises all ships'. When we look for innovation, whether in technology, health care, or social justice, we often look to the best practices in countries that excel. 



So no, I  don't think it's a waste of resources to focus on issues of equality that affect our 'first world' lives. In fact, if you want to continue this discussion, check out the Women Not Objects website. They've got some great videos  that illustrate the harm caused by the objectification of women in the advertisements we see every day. Every parent should watch these videos with their daughters... and their sons... to open a dialogue about how media influences not only what we purchase, but what we think.




But our activism can't stop with what we see every day... it should extend across the globe to address those horrible injustices my friend has seen. Many of us don't have the ability to do global volunteerism, but that doesn't mean we can't make a difference.  For example,  a local women's service organization, Soroptimist International of Saratoga County has made lives  better for women and girls locally and also globally through their support of projects.
 Each year they contribute toward local projects like: Code Blue  Franklin Community Center, Helping Hands School, Junior Achievement NE,  Camp Abilities Saratoga, Rebuilding Together Saratoga, Saratoga Center for the Family, Saratoga EOC, and,Women’s Voices, Women’s Visions. 
But they also support transformational programs worldwide, like;
  • Cinterandes, providing mobile medical support to rural regions in Ecuador where women and girls would not have access to  surgical care without the mobile unit.
  • Building a birthing center in a poor area in Africa. Before this Soroptimist project women gave birth on dirt floors, resulting in heightened child and maternal fatality rates.
  • To Love A Child's work assisting women and children in war torn Haiti with basic needs, like potable water and toilets to improve sanitation, and
  • Drilling for Hope- by providing accessible clean water in third world countries they not only increase health, but also afford girls the opportunity to go to school.
So, my friend;
  •  Yes there is prejudice, discrimination, oppression and violence committed against women worldwide... and we should all consider this our problem and need to act to end it.
  • No, the magnitude of the need globally does not decrease my desire to address the inequities I see here in the US (in fact, it strengthens that resolve as every stride we take advances hope for women everywhere), and
  • Thank you, for giving me the opportunity to think about these issues and realize that:
    • the work that Wellspring does every day to end relationship and sexual abuse locally, is a small but important piece of a bigger picture, and 
    •  that the fundraisers Soroptimist does (remember to save the date for our Secret Gardens Tour on July 10th) gives people locally a way to help women and girls in our  community... but also to have a real impact across the globe, and 
    •  that efforts to decrease violence against women, to  reduce discrimination, and to promote equality don't only help women...they raise up whole communities and the men, women and children in them.
So whether you chose to watch one of the many brief videos at Women Not Objects and discuss it with your friends or kids, or whether you learn more about where our political candidates stand on issues of equality, or whether, like my friend, your altruism extends to using your vacation to provide humanitarian relief in far off places, know that you  can make a difference.

Wellspring Participates in Leap of Kindness Day

On February 29th Wellspring joined other businesses and non-profits from Louisiana to Alaska in the Leap of Kindness Day. The idea for the day was to connect organizations looking to make a big impact with others in the community who could benefit from a simple thank you or a donation of some kindness.

Wellspring was the beneficiary of several local organizations, but we believed it was important to participate as well, so Wellspring staff spent part of the day crafting thank you notes to people and organizations across Saratoga County for helping us to perform our life-saving work.  Examples of these organizations include:

  • The Saratoga Springs Police Department which partners with Wellspring to offer support to domestic violence survivors not only in the crisis, but in the days or weeks that follow.
  • Sexual assault nurse examiners at Saratoga Hospital, Ellis Medicine and Glens Falls Hospital. The compassionate response of these nurses is often the first step in healing for a traumatized survivor of a sexual assault.
  • The Adirondack Trust Co. and Stewarts Shops, two local businesses that not only are in our community- they’re unquestionably for our community, supporting projects and agencies that help address community needs.
  • The Downtown Business Association in Saratoga Springs. Every day these businesses support local causes and help people in need, through donations, fundraisers, and simply human concern.
  • Leadership Saratoga, which for almost 3 decades has trained community members to be volunteers and leaders. Their members serve on the boards of local nonprofits (Our thanks to all the LS grads who have guided Wellspring over the years)
  • The Olde Bryan Inn and Longfellows, which have been long-term supporters not just of Wellspring, but many non-profits in Saratoga County.
  • The Shenendehowa School District and Skidmore College, for their commitment to helping to educate their community about these issues, healthy relationships, and social change
  • So many more!

It was gratifying to recognize all the great things that happen just here in our community. To see photos of our different notes, visit our Facebook photo album.20160229_160214_resized

2016022995125747

With the Shen high school principal

The World Has Changed… Welcome!

Social change.
It's interesting to watch  how a behavior that was socially accepted (or at least tacitly condoned) seemingly overnight is no longer acceptable... or vice versa. In my lifetime I've seen major shifts in thinking about racism, drunk driving, women's rights, smoking, and issues of sexuality and gender expression, just to mention a few.


So what are the factors that underlie these shifts? Is it increased knowledge and understanding? Policies and Laws? Repeated exposure to the problem and personal stories about how people are affected? Is it economic impact? It's all of these.


For several years now I've been commenting that we are reaching a tipping point regarding our society's tolerance regarding domestic and sexual violence. These issues have been around forever, but until recently were considered private and uncomfortably ignored. The graphic images of Ray Rice abusing his fiancée fast forwarded the tipping point. We went from talking about abuse to actually watching domestic violence. And when, cringing, we watched the brutality of a professional athlete punching his fiancée, the blames shifted from judging the victim for choosing to be in the relationship to holding the abuser accountable for committing the violence. And now, seemingly overnight, our policies, attitudes and judgments have changed.


ESPN's Jayson Stark, reporting about Aroldis Chapman's 30 game suspension  makes it clear that the world has changed. I encourage you to read the full article, as his words resonate like a triumphant chorus heralding that after a very long journey we've finally reached  the gates to civilization,


"There once was a time in baseball -- heck, in all sports -- when players abused their spouses and were playing games the next day, as if nothing of any significance had happened...
Well, guess what? Luckily, we don't live in that world anymore... Domestic violence wasn't taken seriously in this sport for way too long a time. So it's almost embarrassing to look back now and recognize how many cases were swept aside or ignored...
For years. For decades.
Until the world changed...
a precedent has been set. And a message has been sent."


Thanks for heralding that change, Mr. Stark. I'm happy to be standing at that gate welcoming everyone to join us.

Happily Taking the Leap

It's February 29th and I've had a great day inspired by the vision of Chamber President Todd Shimkus. He's the genius behind Leap of Kindness Day. The Saratogian quotes Todd explaining the concept, “We thought the best way to use this extra day was to encourage our members and our community to do something kind for someone else,” he explained in a press release. “Rather than simply asking people to do random acts of kindness, we launched this effort 30 days in advance and have worked diligently to connect organizations looking to make a big impact with others in the community who could benefit from a simple thank you or a donation of some kind.”



So today I asked Wellspring staff to think about people or organizations they work with every day that go above and beyond. Those chosen for recognition today varied from individual employees, to organizations that partner with us in innovative collaborations, to businesses whose bottom line is their community. Here's just a few examples:
Wellspring advocate Christie and Chief Veitch

  • the  Saratoga Springs Police Department which partners with Wellspring to offer support to domestic violence survivors not only in the crisis, but  in the days or weeks that follow.
  • the sexual assault nurse examiners at Saratoga Hospital, Ellis Medicine and Glens Falls Hospital. The compassionate response of these nurses is often the first step in healing for a traumatized survivor of a sexual assault. It's tough work, and intensive training, but these nurses show such  passion and dedication to helping survivors.
  • Adirondack Trust Co. and Stewarts Shops, two local businesses that not only are in our community- they're unquestionably for our community, supporting projects and agencies that help address community needs.
  • The Downtown Business Association in Saratoga Springs. These primarily small businesses demonstrate caring and compassion for those less fortunate. Every day these businesses support local causes and help people in need, through donations, fundraisers, and simply human concern.
  •  Leadership Saratoga- for almost 3 decades, LS has trained community members to be volunteers and leaders. Their members serve on the boards of local nonprofits (my personal thanks to all the LS grads who have guided Wellspring over the years) and donate their time to hundreds of local organizations.
    Leadership Saratoga's Kathleen Fyfe and me
It's been gratifying to recognize all the great things that happen just here in our community. What I love about Leap of Kindness Day is that one man's idea has spread so quickly, not just here in Saratoga County, but across the country. Listen to the news-- we focus so much on the negative; yet each day there are so many people doing such inspirational good works. It's gratifying to make the time to recognize them; thanks for giving us the opportunity Todd. But I do think 4 years is too long to wait for another opportunity... let's figure out how to make this an annual event.


" I think the world is going to be saved by millions of small things."
Pete Seeger 

One in Three is Too Many!

When we think of holidays and February our first thoughts might be of candy hearts or perhaps presidents, but I'd like to wish you a Happy TDVAM.
Huh?
February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.

According to the Family and Youth Services Bureau, "Each year, nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner. At a rate far higher than other forms of youth violence, teen dating violence impacts 1 in 3 adolescents in the United States through physical, sexual, emotional and verbal abuse."


1 in 3. The statistic alone sounds significant, but if you've ever picked your teenager up at the end of the school  day or after a school basketball game you've got an image in your mind of how many youth stream out of those doors. Now mentally calculate that 1 in 3 number as you're envisioning all those teens walking past you. This is a serious problem.

Wellspring staff work with local youth to raise awareness about relationship and sexual abuse. We have conversations about issues like consent, creating social change, how to intervene if you see a situation, and the connection between alcohol and sexual victimization. We want to give teens the knowledge, skills and confidence to speak up for themselves or for someone in need. So this February talk to a teen about dating violence.

 What Is Consent? Here's a quick video about consent to start the conversation... because 1 in 3 is too many.



19th Annual Bartenders’ Ball Sets Record Attendance

February 9, 2016

Submitted by Maggie Fronk, Executive Director

Wellspring (DVRC)

(518) 583-0280

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 On Saturday, February 6, over 735 community members descended upon a sold-out Saratoga Springs City Center as The Hospitality Committee of The Saratoga Chamber of Commerce hosted the Annual Bartenders’ Ball.  The annual gala featured a night of food, drinks, live music, dancing, and gaming all to the theme of ‘Fire and Ice.’

In doing so, they helped support Wellspring, which provides services to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in Saratoga County, by helping to raise $25,000 in support of the agency.  According to Maggie Fronk, Executive Director of Wellspring, the agency will use the funds, “to invest improve accessibility to Wellspring services for all members of the communities we serve.”

She added, “We want to thank everyone who help make the ball such a great event—the committee members who work so hard, including the people at Fine Affairs and the Holiday Inn Saratoga Springs for their exceptional work in creating a fun, vibrant theme, environment and menu, all while providing our guests with the exceptional service one expects in Saratoga County hospitality.  But most of all, we want to thank everyone who came to this event in support of the hospitality workers, as well as the mission of Wellspring—in doing so, you helped to make a difference in the lives of hundreds of local residents dealing with relationship and sexual abuse.”

This was the eighth year of a partnership between the Hospitality Committee of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce and Wellspring.  In 2009, Wellspring, then DVRC, partook in our first Bartenders’ Ball.  Since then, the fundraiser has raised over $180,000 in support of the agency and their clients.  Funds have been used to update many aspects of the secure shelter, which every year provides almost 3,000 safe bed nights to families in imminent danger because of domestic abuse.  The funds have also helped improve the infrastructure that supports and provides crisis intervention and support services, and access to services for members of the community who have limited or no access to transportation or technology resources.

The event was also the culmination of the annual ‘Most Valuable Bartender’ contest, as voted by members of the Saratoga County community.  This year 30 bartenders from 10 participating establishments vied for the title of MVB.  After almost 6,000 people cast their votes, the winners were announced at the Ball.  3rd Place went to Nicole from the Rusty Nail in Clifton Park, 2nd Place went to Peggy Sue from The Mill on Round Lake, and 1st Place went to Patty from The Ravenswood Pub in Clifton Park.

Now in its 19th year, the Ball has generated $500,000 for local charities, while honoring the individuals who make the $120 million/year Saratoga County hospitality industry happen.  It is also become a signature event of the local social calendar—this year’s event sold out more than a week in advance, even with the addition of extra seats.

The ball was made possible through the sponsorship of many local hospitality companies including Platinum sponsors 101.3 The Jockey, Fine Affairs, and Sysco.  DeCrescente Distributing, Saratoga Eagle Sales and Service Inc., and Southern Wine and Spirits, also supported the event through sponsorship.

Help local kids and a positive message go viral by February 12th

At Wellspring we spend a lot of time talking to youth. Why? Our vision is to end relationship and sexual abuse in our community. Crisis and support services and prevention programs are strategies to work toward that goal, but they're not enough. We also need to create social change. We need to address the underlying factors that are woven into our society, beliefs, and our policies and practices which contribute to abuse enduring. Sometimes these are so much a part of the fabric of our  lives that we don't even notice them.


Some students at the Myers Center  are helping to create that social change. They just made a video to raise awareness about Dating Violence Awareness Month... and they need your help to make the video go viral. Here's their story:


Help Myers SADD Video Go Viral by February 12

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Help the Myers SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) students make their video go viral by February 12. The winner will be announced in mid-February. Students who belong to the Myers SADD organization created an original video on domestic violence prevention and entered it in the #ICanDoSomething video challenge. They created a one-minute-long video that features 15 students from the F. Donald Myers Education Center.
The New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence challenged New York State teens, who are between 14 and 18 years old, to create a positive video message about healthy teen dating relationships and make it go viral. 
Click here to view the video and share with everyone you know. 





Try Thai for Wellspring this Wednesday!


Here's a great way to feel terrific while supporting Wellspring. Bodyworks Professionals is offering Thai Massage sessions. Come sample a 30 minute Thai Massage and they'll your donate the proceeds to Wellspring. You'll feel like a new person, while helping others find safety and healing.



Watching

It affects 7.5 million people in the US yearly
For half the people it happens before their 25th birthday
Most of the time it's done by someone they know
It causes fear, employment concerns, some people have to move, and others fear it will never end


What is it?
Stalking


When was the last time you thought about stalking? Maybe you read about a celebrity who is being stalked by a 'fan'. Stalking is one of those things we don't think about too much until it happens to someone we care about. The sad reality is stalking is far more common than most people think. It's also highly correlated with intimate partner violence... and with intimate partner homicide.


Sometimes I'm mindlessly singing along to Sting's I'll be Watching You and I catch myself and shudder as I really listen to the words and think about the terror that stalking elicits.


Every breathe you take
And every move you make
Every bond you break
and every step you take
I'll be watching you

Every single day
And every word you say
Every game you play
And every night you stay
I'll be watching you

Oh you can' t see
You belong to me...

I'll be Watching You is often mistaken as a love song. Wikipedia reports Sting "was disconcerted by how many people think the song is more positive than it is. He insists it is about the obsession with a lost lover, and the jealousy and surveillance that follow...I think the song is very, very sinister and ugly and people have actually misinterpreted it as being a gentle little love song, when it's quite the opposite."




January is National Stalking Awareness Month


It's important to know about stalking, so you can recognize the early signs and encourage someone you know to get help tight away. Got 5 minutes? Here's a quick interactive quiz to help you better understand stalking. And here's a fact sheet for more information about stalking.




























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