Center Against Sexual and Domestic Abuse (CASDA)
The Center Against Sexual and Domestic Abuse is celebrating its 30th year of service in 2018. Their mission is “To provide supportive services to individuals hurt by domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse while advocating for a community effort to end violence.” While their mission statement is simple, there is nothing simple about how the mission is carried out. They are many things to many people. The skills of their staff are as varied as the needs of their clients, and their resourcefulness to meet the needs of the community knows no bounds.
When clients come to them for help, they have a strong network of staff to assist them in any way possible. Their services include a 24-hour help-line, Peer Counseling, Support Groups, Emergency Shelter, Children’s Program, Legal Services, Community education, Volunteer Program and Rural Outreach.
What that means for Joanne Sanders, the Shelter Program Coordinator, is that she could be driving a client to an interview, assisting in their search for housing or just lending a compassionate ear. She is always ready for anything! It is clear that each individual has a unique situation, and CASDA aims to assist the “whole” of the person, from client support groups to legal assistance to child care.
They are great at finding and organizing community resources, working in cooperation with other non-profits to assist their clients, and working with area business for fundraising and in-kind donations. As an emergency shelter, they need lots of supplies and are blessed with a community that holds donation drives for towels, blankets and more. In addition, they hold their own drives several times a year. In the past, they have sent letters out to local hotels during their drives. They once received a generous donation of used towels from the AmericInn. That donation has lasted for quite a while, and they’ve only recently found the need to restock.They were joyful to hear about the HOHP through the Head of the Lakes United Way. It gave them a feeling that their outreach to the hotels had planted a seed that others had finally helped grow.
They were partnered with the Hampton Inn, who they were already familiar with from past donations. In 2017, CASDA’s shelter housed 149 women and 86 children. Each of the shelter’s rooms has at least two beds in it, and the shelter also contains a kitchen and four shared bathrooms, so they have plenty of need for the Hampton Inn’s bedding and towels. In fact, some of their greatest needs are for bedding and household items.
Besides bedding basics, the ladies at CASDA were surprisingly excited about the shower curtains and trash cans the Hampton Inn donated. When clients are able to move on from the shelter into a new apartment, they are essentially starting from scratch. With not even a plate to eat on, they must focus more on needs than wants. While shower curtains and trash cans aren’t glamorous, they are very necessary for living, and CASDA is grateful for even such simple things.
A former client shared: “Most people don’t know how hard it is to get your life back after being in an abusive relationship. The physical pain heals much faster than the emotional and mental pain. It has taken me years to overcome the situation I was in. CASDA provided me with the tools I needed right when I needed them. It wasn’t a ‘one and done’ place. I still call there when I need advice on something that is a residual effect from the abuse we suffered. They are always there and always willing to help.”
One of their challenges when it comes to accepting donations is CASDA’s limited storage space. For example, they can’t store large quantities of mattresses for the future. Thankfully, the HOHP has an online community for partners where special offers of furniture can be posted. Hopefully, knowing what will be available and when can help alleviate some of that problem.
Jill Hinners, the Community Engagement Coordinator, says “The more people who understand what we do and its importance, and understand that yes, abuse does happen here and we need to talk about it openly, the more effective we can all be at advocating for a community effort to end violence.”
A 2017 client shared this story: “You guys saved my life. If I hadn’t been able to be here, if you hadn’t helped me, I’d be back to the only person who would have me. I would be hurt, trafficked and pumped full of drugs. Thank you for caring that I live.”
Most people can’t even picture the obstacles that must be overcome to reclaim your life and start over. Simple things, like not having a birth certificate can make a new start seem insurmountable. The future can sure appear brighter when you leave for your new life with a fresh set of bedding, towels and other essentials. CASDA staff are motivated by the thankful stories of their clients, some who even come back to them as volunteers to help others and “pay it forward”.
Hampton Inn Canal Park
The Hampton Inn in Canal Park was a perfect match for CASDA, which needed a good source for bedding and furnishings but didn’t have a desperate need for bottled amenities. That’s because the Hampton Inn belongs to the Hilton hotel chain, which is one of several in the world that participate in the Clean the World program. The Hampton Inn collects all their bar soap, used shampoos and conditioners and sends them to this non-profit organization, which then “delivers these recycled products and donations to domestic homeless shelters and impoverished countries suffering from high death rates due to acute respiratory infection and diarrheal disease.” Clean the World places an emphasis on corporate responsibility for their participants as a part of being sustainable. For more information on all that they do, you can check out this link:
As you can imagine, it took no convincing for the Hampton Inn to jump onboard with the HOHP. While they send their personal care amenities to Clean the World, the Hilton company takes a sustainable approach to their business, from waste reduction, responsible sourcing, to water and energy use reduction. As a result, the staff at the Hampton Inn are enthusiastic about repurposing anything they can to keep it out of landfills.
In the past, they had donated various items to their HOHP partner, CASDA, on various occasions. Chelle, the Director of Group Sales lived near them and could drop items off on her way home. Sometimes the hotel would also give furniture to Goodwill. It was difficult when they had used furniture available, to find someone who could accept it. As mentioned above, non-profits, such as CASDA generally don’t have a lot of storage space and so the timing must be just right. The partner online forum will be a great use to them for that reason.
Chelle explained how well hospitality items are repurposed at the Hampton Inn. Some items are very gently used, perhaps a towel has a tiny spot that makes the hotel unable to use it again. These items are designated for CASDA. Chelle will even take the time to put bedding sets together and label them according to size. So each set will have a flat sheet, fitted sheet, and pillowcase to go with it. It takes a little time to get it all together, but she knows it makes it easier for the non-profit. If there are towels that are way too dirtied and stained, the hotel will use those for their own cleaning purposes. There is rarely anything that goes into the waste stream.
The Hampton Inn is excited to be able to give back to the community through the HOHP. Chelle guesses that there were non-profits out there that were not aware of the opportunities for gently used items available through hotels, and believes it’s making a difference for the community.