Wellspring’s dedicated staff, board members and donors make it possible for survivors in Saratoga County to receive crucial domestic violence and sexual assault services. But it’s the leadership, vision and passion of their executive director, Maggie Fronk, that moves the organization forward. Between leading Wellspring’s COVID-19 response, new building project and the day-to-day initiatives of the organization, Maggie keeps Wellspring as busy as ever. And she’s not slowing down anytime soon.
We sat down with Maggie to learn more about her background in human services, why Wellspring’s services are so important, and what to expect in the future.
1. What is your background and how did you get involved with Wellspring?
Maggie: “I’ve worked my whole professional career in human services in the Capital District. Initially, I worked at Mohawk Opportunities in Schenectady providing residential treatment for people living with mental illness, starting as an entry-level counselor and taking on other roles in the organization as a program director, staff trainer, and then upper management.
After that I was the associate director at CARES, working to help people who were living with HIV/AIDS, who are homeless and to work with communities to improve our response to homelessness and housing instability. That systems-level work has been an important component of my work here at Wellspring; our local human services agencies work really collaborative toward shared community solutions to the social issues affecting our clients.”
2. Why is Wellspring’s mission important to you?
Maggie: “Everyone has a fundamental right to feel safe in their community, in their home, and in their relationships. And yet:
- 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men experience domestic violence in their lifetimes
- 1 in 3 adolescents experiences dating abuse.
- 1 in 10 seniors experienced elder abuse, and
- Every 73 seconds someone in America is sexually assaulted.
Wellspring’s work is important to me because we not only help people to find safety but also to begin the process of healing from the abuse they have experienced. Our advocates work every day with people who have been traumatized by relationship and sexual abuse… and every day we see people who may walk in our door as victims, but become strong survivors as they find safety, healing and support.
Survivor services are absolutely essential, but they’re only one part of the solution. Our hotline answers 1500-1700 calls a year and we provide in-person services to about 1,000 clients each year, which is TOO MANY. So, I’m particularly inspired by our prevention and social change program that are involving all our community in creating changes in attitudes and actions that contribute to abuse. This is key to reducing the rates of relationship and sexual abuse in our community.”
3. Is there an inspiring moment you’d like to share from your time working with Wellspring?
Maggie: “We are entering springtime, so maybe I can share one of my favorite stories. I consider this story to be a priceless gift that was given to me by someone who had used Wellspring’s services many years before.
In working with a capital district business on an event, I was explaining our services and the challenges abuse victims face to the business leader. She leaned over and whispered in my ear, ‘I know. Your agency helped me when I was in a desperate situation many years ago. Thank you.’
She then described how she’d been in the abusive relationship for so long she couldn’t even imagine there was hope, ‘It’s like mid-March when it’s been cold and grey for so long you totally forget there a was ever warmth or color. It feels like winter will last forever and there’s no hope of anything else. Then I came to your agency and got help and it felt like that first warm day in spring when you feel the sun beating down warm on your face. You take off your jacket and look around and suddenly realize there’s color all around… tiny green buds on the bushes and flowers and blue skies and sun. That’s what it felt like as soon as I met with your advocate.’
Every year since I’ve thought of her beautiful story on those first warm days of spring and felt grateful that we can play some small part in helping survivors to achieve those moments.”
4. What is one thing you’d like the community to know about Wellspring?
Maggie: “Wellspring’s staff of 20 can provide crisis and support services to those in need and offer prevention programs, but we can’t achieve our vision of ending relationship and sexual abuse alone. We need you! We need everyone in our community to recognize the subtle signs of abuse, to know the resources available, to be willing to talk to someone when they’re worried that person may be experiencing abuse, and to talk about these issues among their peers so we can create change, and also so people being abused know they aren’t alone. Wellspring has programs that can give you the tools to become advocates for change. Together we CAN end relationship and sexual abuse.”
5. What excites you most about Wellspring’s work in the future?
Maggie: “Well, one of Wellspring’s really big projects right now is our new building at 2816 Route 9 in Malta. Construction is underway right now and we’ll be moving our program offices there by this October. While it’s a gorgeous building, it’s not the building that excites me, but rather how this new space is going to help us better serve our community. It’s easily accessible and visible, so those in need will know we are there to help and our doors are open.
Our confidential client wing gives a roomy, professional space where survivors can feel comfortable in accessing support services. There’s even a fantastic children’s room so the kids can play while their parent works with an advocate. We’ve got space to offer more prevention and social change programs, inviting community members in to learn more about how they help us achieve our goal of ending abuse. We’ll be able to offer more programs to train professionals so they are better prepared to respond to situations that present related to relationship and sexual abuse. And we’ll have an expanded focus on economic self-sufficiency, housing for survivors, and workforce development– helping people to achieve a living wage because far too many people feel they are trapped in abusive relationships due to financial dependence.
So, look for more information in the next few months about Wellspring’s exciting news about our new program space and the many new programs we’ll be offering!”
Want to know how you can help Wellspring?
The most effective way to help Wellspring’s mission to end relationship and sexual abuse in our community (especially during the COVID-19 pandemic) is by providing monetary donations. The people who seek our help have needs that are urgent and different. Your generosity will directly help survivors and their families by providing crucial services—whether that be financial education, crisis intervention, counseling, immediate or long-term housing support, educational programs, foster homes for pets and more.
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