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The Eagle Angle

Building A Better Future

Astrid Souto, Staff Writer

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Along the outskirts of Dallas lies a safe haven for women and children who fear their abusers. These individuals have suffered tremendously and fled unexpectedly with little to nothing besides the clothes on their backs. The Family Place serves as a temporary home for these now homeless women and children and provides them with all the goods and services they  need to get back on their feet and living on their own.

As for the location of the highly secure building, it must remain confidential to all those besides volunteer group leaders and trustworthy visitors/family members in order to protect the abused from their batterers. These women and children feel trepidation about being abducted by the individual they escaped from and the most cautious measures must be taken in order to preserve their new, healthy lives.

Recruiting volunteers and donors, which is how the program receives most of the goods required to sustain a free shelter, is quite difficult due to its private status. However, most volunteers arrive in large groups or have some past experience with domestic abuse which motivates them to frequently lend a helping hand. This has been the volunteer recruitment program for a decade. As for donors, there are several well-known branch facilities of the shelter that will collect any donations and deliver them to the abused women without exposing their specific residence.

Initially, volunteers commence their work by completing intermediary tasks and taking tours of the facilities, which is what I experienced upon my first visit to the shelter. They had my group of 15 people working on a simple task: painting walls. This relatively easy job allowed us to paint an entire hallway and schedule a tour of the facilities with plenty of time still to spare. As we lathered the walls with grey paint we could not help but notice the abundance of children’s artwork hung up. The heart wrenching tales of fear and escape contrasted with the artwork that portrayed a new, safe life brought tears to my eyes. I was in disbelief at the thought of a man or a woman laying a deceitful, manipulative hand on their spouse and children.

I have always sympathized with victims of domestic abuse, but never really went the extra mile to assist them. Now that I have taken the first step in my volunteer work, I have no doubt that I will return. My goal is to work with young children in the facilities’ free school and provide them with a chance to stimulate their learning until they can attend public school, as their fear-inducing abusive experiences have most likely hindered and distracted from their educational experience.

These women and their children are terrified and in hiding, but at least they are not alone. They have been taken in under the care of The Family Place and will leave healthy, happy and ready to begin their independent lives.

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