When you work with victims of crime, especially crimes of violence and abuse, it is difficult some days to find a silver lining. Days on end of hearing about the awful treatment humans are willing to perpetrate on one another will ultimately take a toll, and as advocates, we sometimes find ourselves feeling sad or helpless.
This is where the practice of self-care comes in, and for good reason. We are most effective when we are grounded, focused, well-rested, and self-aware. In reality, however, self-care should not be a practice reserved just for advocates. Each of us needs to take time in our busy, fulfilling, challenging, and real lives to take care of ourselves.
One way to indulge in self-care is through the practice of gratitude. There is actually quite a bit of science behind the benefits of such a practice, but the gist is that grateful people “experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems,” according to Derrick Carpenter. Each of us has likely experienced the euphoria that comes with deliberately expressing or showing gratitude. It just feels good.
We experienced this for ourselves earlier this month at DOVE Center’s annual meeting. It was just a casual afternoon social, but the purpose of the gathering was to specifically thank our donors and supporters for their generous gifts of time, treasure, and talent this past year. Sometimes, it seems all we do is ask for help, so taking the time to be purposeful in expressing our gratitude was uplifting and wonderful. It just felt good!
It was in this spirit of gratitude that DOVE Center created three service awards to honor those who have made special contributions this year. Dr. Philip Lee received the Volunteer Service Award as the facilitator of our financial empowerment class. Lee has led three sections of this eight-week course so far, donating all of his time and bringing incredible talent and expertise to the course experience. Money and finances play an important role in the decision to leave or stay in an abusive relationship. This course helps survivors prepare for a brighter future by helping them learn how to manage their finances. We know from clients who have participated in the course that it has made a measurable difference in their feelings of empowerment and security. Thanks, Dr. Lee!
Even Stevens, a sandwich shop that opened up shop in St. George a little over a year ago, received our Community Partner of the Year award for the incredible support they have given to DOVE Center this year. Even Stevens has a mission of reducing food insecurity, and it does that by partnering with agencies like DOVE Center that serve families and individuals who face uncertainty in securing their next meals. Not only does Even Stevens give the gift of food but its staff members are active volunteers within their community partner agencies. It truly is an organization dedicated to service and healthy communities, and its food donations allow us to redirect funds to other programs and services for survivors. Thanks, Even Stevens!
The Community Service Award was earmarked for a very special individual to our organization, Pat Shoemaker-Glessner, whose name is familiar to many as she and her husband are active philanthropists in the St. George community. She has been involved with DOVE Center since almost the very beginning. She has served multiple terms on our Board of Trustees and has given very generously over the years to support our ability to deliver services to survivors. She definitely has a soft spot for women and children, especially those experiencing abuse and violence at home. She has been an incredible advocate for them in a variety of ways, and her service to DOVE Center is just one example. Beyond her personal service and support, she has mobilized others to get involved. She is a true provider of community service, and we are so thankful for her influence. Thank you, Pat!
As we look forward to another year of abundance and goodwill, we want to leave you with a simple reminder: The holiday season can be stressful. There are demands on our finances and our time, and for some, the pressure is too much. Please remember to be kind to yourself and, when possible, take a minute to practice a bit of gratitude, even if it’s simple gratitude for the shoes on your feet. We have been so blessed because of our association with you and these wonderful volunteers and community partners. Thank you for your support and for being a part of the healing journey toward empowerment for abused individuals right here in our own community.