By Jess Counsell and Sandra K. Ziebold
Building community partnerships is an important part of what we do at Beacon of Hope Crisis Center. Attending cultural awareness meetings helps grow our partnerships in the community.
Are you culturally aware? What does that mean?
It means the ability of becoming aware of not only ours but other cultural values, beliefs and perceptions. It involves being sensitive to the similarities and differences that exist between ourselves and people from other countries or other backgrounds, especially differences in values and attitudes.
Staying informed on the diverse cultures within our community is an important part of maintaining the inclusive environment at Beacon of Hope. Partnering with the Burmese Community has helped us gain a brighter perspective on ways we can better assist victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
The South Side Burmese Cultural Awareness Meeting the last week of August was the perfect opportunity to get information and ask questions. One of the greatest needs that was addressed is in regard to a lack of volunteers that can teach English. Recognizing the potential language barrier helped us gain a greater understanding of what we can do to provide services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault within the Burmese Community.
Facts To Note:
By Kristin Scriven
Meet Merideth Bush, Beacon of Hope’s Crisis Call Team Leader! Merideth joins us fresh out of graduate school where she earned her Master’s degree in International Policy and her MBA from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey Bay in California. For her undergraduate education, Merideth studied Spanish at Ashbury University in Kentucky.
As Crisis Call Team Leader Merideth is the first point of contact when a victim of domestic violence and or sexual assault calls. Merideth likes being able to support victims and validate their feelings while connecting them with all of the resources Beacon of Hope has to offer!
Her favorite aspect of Beacon of Hope is how inclusive we are of all communities. Domestic violence and sexual assault do discriminate based on ethnicity, religion, language, education, or orientation and getting the chance to serve everyone is one of the things Merideth is most passionate about.
A fun fact about Merideth is that she once roasted marshmallows over a volcano in Guatemala! She is also responsible for introducing our staff to Wednesday mid-morning yoga breaks, an office favorite!
Thanks for your contagious enthusiasm and passion, Merideth!
By Sandra K. Ziebold and Merideth Bush
Beacon of Hope is a Christ-centered crisis center. To some, it may sound as though we exclusively offer services to the Christian community or that we impose Christian beliefs on those we serve, but this could not be further from the truth. When we say that we are a Christ-centered agency, we mean that our approach to victim services seeks to imitate the qualities exemplified by Christ’s interactions with the hurting people in his community: qualities such as kindness, respectfulness, non-judgement, and acceptance.
What does this look like in practice?
It looks like reaching out to leaders of refugee communities, including those which represent ethnic and religious minorities, so that they know what the laws are regarding intimate partner violence, how to recognize it, and where to find service providers that will respect and accommodate their religious and cultural needs alongside traditional legal and advocacy services.
It looks like looking past gender stereotypes to recognize that 1 in 4 men will experience intimate partner violence in their lifetime. We welcome and advocate for male victims with the same dedication and compassion we show to female victims.
It looks like reaching out to service providers of our immigrant population to make sure they know that they can seek help to escape intimate partner violence regardless of their citizenship or immigration status.
It looks like seeking partnerships with interpreters so that we can overcome language barriers. Domestic violence and sexual assault are not limited by languages. The advocacy we offer shouldn’t be either.
It looks like recognizing that the LGBTQ+ community suffers from domestic violence and sexual assault with the same frequency and severity as their heterosexual counterparts, and welcoming members of this community with open arms when they choose to seek help.
It looks like the relief on the face of a client from a marginalized community when they turn to us at the end of an advocacy appointment, smile for the first time that day and say, “Thank you. I honestly didn’t think I’d find anyone willing to help me.”
This is Beacon of Hope’s Christ-centered approach to victim advocacy in action. Regardless of race, religion, gender, culture, sexual orientation, or any other label that may differentiate us, the Christ-like qualities of kindness, respectfulness, non-judgment, and acceptance are the inspiration for our interaction with every client, and lie at the very heart of who we are at Beacon of Hope.
About this blog
This blog is about our domestic and sexual violence crisis center, Beacon of Hope. We hope you find it full of helpful information, motivation, creativity, serious facts and positivity. We hope that it will help you know what is happening in our center, in our community and with our events. We hope you follow our blog in support of our organization and our mission.