After escaping an abusive relationship, Emma* moved to a shelter with her young child. She soon left the shelter for an apartment, but the apartment fell through, and Emma found herself unhoused. CPS removed her child, she relapsed into substance abuse, and she was eventually incarcerated. When Emma* started working with a Women’s Center for Advancement (WCA) advocate, she had just been released from jail.
With the WCA, Emma sought treatment for substance abuse and began therapy to address the trauma she had experienced. Emma’s advocate helped her gain employment and connect with community resources. Through goal setting, coaching, and support, the advocate helped Emma reach stability.
Emma is now committed to sobriety and regularly attends substance abuse meetings and counseling. She is employed full-time, living in safe housing, and her child was returned to her custody. While working diligently on gaining stability and self-sufficiency, Emma also had the courage to testify against her abuser, who is currently incarcerated for domestic violence.
Emma’s story exemplifies the growth that can happen while working with the WCA Safety and Mental Health Services program.
The WCA Safety Services program focuses on immediate safety needs and long-term stability for victims/survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking. WCA advocates provide support, guidance and help victims/survivors plan for safety.
COVID-19 dramatically affected the program. The WCA saw a 40% increase in calls to their hotline in 2021 and needed to ensure they had sufficient funding to staff the program at a capacity to handle the increase in call volume and overall demand for services. Funding from the City of Omaha’s ARPA Community Grant Program supported the salaries of advocates.
In 2022, advocates fielded 8,303 calls on the 24-hour crisis hotline, supported clients at 336 medical visits, filed 485 protection orders, and created 2,259 safety plans. Advocates continued to assist victims/survivors with safety planning, resources and referrals, navigating the civil justice system, and emotional support. Clients receiving counseling services have no limit on the number of therapy sessions.
Victims/survivors often feel isolated and alone. The WCA hosts weekly support groups for survivors to connect with others, share experiences, and promote healing. In an effort to improve these offerings, WCA group facilitators completed a training program to become certified peer support specialists. Respect, shared responsibility, and mutual understanding are core principles of peer support.
*Name changed to respect privacy.
The City of Omaha partnered with the Omaha Community Foundation to administer the ARPA Community Grant Program because of the foundation’s work with local nonprofits and awareness of community needs. The grant program focused on providing funding to expand or enhance existing programs in areas of Crisis Intervention & Violence Prevention, and Workforce Development.
The ARPA Community Grant Program awarded $9.6 million to 36 nonprofit organizations. Eligible programs included youth programs such as mentoring, gang prevention and intervention, mental health, crisis response, and assistance to unemployed workers including workforce readiness training, certification, and employment services.
This project is being supported, in whole or in part, by federal award number SLFRP0230 awarded to the City of Omaha by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.