By Becky Heard and Heather Jeppeson
He didn’t hit her on the first date. They never do.
The beatings didn’t start until after he’d separated her from most of her friends, family and financial independence. It’s a common story.
But fortunately, for this woman, one friend remained. A friend who lived in a place she’d never been: Yolo County, California. This once-professional mother of three (ages 3, 5 and 10) knew that in order to keep her children and herself safe from the escalating violence, she’d need a plan.
Saving what little she could in order to make the trip to safety, Joanne waited for a moment when he wasn’t looking. And the perfect moment happened in the middle of the night. Joanne quietly gathered her children, stuffed the most basic belongings into her small car and left everything else behind.
When Joanne arrived in Yolo, her friend provided shelter. Joanne knew how lucky she was to be a survivor, but she still had worries: She didn’t know anyone in town. She didn’t have a job, housing, a school for the children, or, God forbid, if he found her, legal security.
Her family had nothing. Except their lives.
Joanne was overwhelmed by need. Her friend wished she could do more. Serendipitously, she did.
That’s because her friend once read about the Yolo Crisis Nursery. Maybe, she hoped, they could help.
Joanne reached out, and the nursery reached back. That’s how it always happens at the Crisis Nursery.
Working at lightning-fast speed, Yolo Crisis Nursery provided respite child care and a clothing care package for the children. Staff members facilitated Joanne’s placement on waiting lists for housing. Joanne received a referral for a child care subsidy and low-income preschool for her 3-year-old. This would enable Joanne to return to work.
The nursery helped her become eligible for WIC and CALworks. And legal protections were obtained when Joanne was referred to the Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Center.
In just two months, Joanne found employment and housing. Now, the single mother and her children could receive the gift they needed most: healing.
The Yolo Crisis Nursery connected the family with counseling services, where they are still recovering today.
Every day, YCN receives shattered lives. And every day, YCN weaves those fragments into something beautiful, sustainable and flourishing.
The Friends of the Yolo Crisis Nursery use their love and talent to support the nursery by raising awareness. You can join their efforts by contacting Heidy Kellison at [email protected] or (530) 753-2646.
If you need the nursery’s vital support, please contact the welcoming staff at (530) 758-6680. Don’t wait. Your moment is now.
— Becky Heard and Heather Jeppeson are co-presidents of Friends of the Yolo Crisis Nursery. This column is published monthly.