I hope you had a wonderful, long weekend and were able to spend the Memorial holiday doing something you enjoy. As I reflected on the true meaning of Memorial Day, of honoring those service members who have given the ultimate sacrifice, my thoughts turned to freedom and what it means to me personally, and to those we help at the WCA.
Freedom to me means that I am able to make decisions without fear of reprisal. It means that my home is a safe place within which I am able to enjoy the company of family and friends, or my own quiet time if I so choose. I am able to be myself and feel supported in doing so—this to me is at the heart of being free.
However, for those in unhealthy and abusive relationships, freedom can be a foreign concept and may even seem completely unreachable. Many times, those who come through our doors at the WCA express feelings of powerlessness and often, they have been stripped of the ability to make choices about where they go, what they wear, who they see, if they can work, or if they can have access to money. Being controlled on so many different levels robs them of their freedom.
With this on my mind, my thoughts turn to our recently announced strategic collaboration with Idaho Youth Ranch, and I am filled with new hope. As part of this expanded partnership, our clients will have access to skills-based job training programs within the IYR network of thrift stores; learning retail and merchandising, roles in their distribution center and administrative services in the central offices. For someone who feels trapped in an abusive relationship because they cannot financially support themselves or have not been allowed to work, these job skills can be critical to the journey toward independence and a life free from abuse.
In turn, through this expanded partnership we are able to offer our prevention education and financial empowerment programming to the children and families in the IYR network, offering our staff’s expertise and time to help build strong and healthy families. Our teams have been working on developing virtual and distance learning opportunities and we are excited to be able to share our programs more broadly with the community through IYR.
As with many of you, we have had to make some significant changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We were uncertain about the future of The Shop when it had to close in March and we recently made the tough decision to make the closure permanent. However, with this IYR collaboration, our clients will now have access to vouchers they can use at any IYR thrift store, so they can shop independently and at their convenience at many different locations throughout the Treasure Valley and across the state. We hope our generous donors and shoppers will support IYR with their in-kind donations and patronage. I know I plan to!
I feel so fortunate to be a member of this community. We have a fabulous network of nonprofit organizations, like Idaho Youth Ranch, that truly provide a safety net for those in crisis. Across our organization, we rely on strong partnerships with many different public and nonprofit agencies to help our clients access services, programming and items they need. We are so grateful to our partners, volunteers and supporters—because together we are making a difference for vulnerable families.
I am so thankful for you and hope you are finding ways to stay positive and healthy in this ongoing time of change and uncertainty.