Willow Domestic Violence Center of Greater Rochester has received a $450,000 grant from the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women Underserved Program.
The grant is earmarked to help Deaf, Deaf-Blind and hard of hearing survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking in Monroe County. Deaf Ignite, a Deaf victim services program housed within Willow, provides advocacy, counseling, community education and referrals.
The DOJ also provided a $325,000 grant to Community Services for Every1 and the Family Justice Center of Erie County.
“These grants, awarded to agencies in the Western District of New York, will ensure that survivors of serious crimes from underserved communities, including survivors with disabilities, have access to vitally important support services, including counseling, advocacy and education,” U.S. Attorney Trini Ross said in a news release.
The Office on Violence Against Women has awarded nearly $31 million to programs across the country to improve outreach, services and support.
The YWCA of Rochester & Monroe County, Willow Domestic Violence Center and the Legal Aid Society of Rochester have received funding from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development for the Rochester/Monroe County Homeless Continuum of Care (RMHCoC).
The program is an innovative collaboration in rapid rehousing for survivors of domestic violence.
“This is a huge win for our community,” said YWCA President and CEO Angela Panzarela. “With increased domestic violence incidents reported in our community and 14,148 individuals denied shelter in domestic violence residential programs in 2016, we knew we had to do better to ensure all individuals in our community are safe.”
The YWCA turned to Willow and the Legal Aid Society to find a solution to the problem, officials said.
“Safe, affordable housing is a critical need for survivors of abuse in our community,” Willow President and CEO Meaghan de Chateauvieux said. “This new way of collaborating with our long-time partners ensures that the full spectrum of survivor needs are addressed, including safety planning, legal services and supportive housing.”
It is not the first time YWCA and Willow have collaborated; in 2016, they were awarded a grant through the Office of Violence Against Women to develop the Bridges Home program. Bridges Home offers supportive housing, financial assistance and supports to ensure women feel safe as they rebuild their lives after fleeing domestic violence.
“We are thrilled to expand our collaborative efforts with YWCA and Willow, and merge our experience preventing homelessness with our expertise of providing civil legal services to survivors of domestic violence,” Legal Aid Society President and CEO Carla Palumbo said.
The new funding will support a case manager at YWCA and at Willow, as well as an attorney at the Legal Aid Society. Individuals enrolled in the RMHCoC program, including men and families impacted by domestic violence, will be provided safe emergency shelter while in crisis. Case managers will assist with issues of mental health, substance abuse, employment education and training.
Once permanent housing has been identified, the grant will help support three to six months of rental assistance and support services for up to a year or more, if required.
In May 2017, the Housing Homeless Services Annual Report noted that in addition to funds spent to house individuals impacted by domestic violence within Monroe County, Monroe County Human Services paid more than $450,000 for temporary housing for Monroe County residents in domestic violence shelters outside the county. Rapid rehousing programs speed the path to permanent housing and have an economic benefit for the community, with rental costs being invested back to the county.
“Collaboration is key to the success of this project,” Panzarella said. “It is only through a community of partners, each focused on their program area of expertise that this program will succeed. Through partnership, we will make our community a supportive home for survivors of domestic violence.”
Willow Domestic Violence Center has tapped a five-year veteran of the nonprofit as its new leader.
Meaghan Lacey de Chateauvieux had for three months shared interim leadership responsibility with Mike Dedee, director of operations, and Marie Viavattine, director of programs & services, prior to being named president and CEO on Tuesday.
De Chateauvieux joined Willow in 2013 as director of development and marketing. During her tenure she successfully completed an $8.4 million capital campaign while spearheading 20 percent year-over-year growth in annual fund contributions and building Willow’s community of supporters.
The fundraising enabled Willow to open a new facility last year. A nearly $5 million grant from the state Homeless Housing and Assistance Corp., coupled with more than $3 million in philanthropic support helped open the center.
The new building features 49 beds and is the largest domestic violence shelter in Upstate New York. Willow has doubled the size of its counseling center and expanded its hotline call center to field more than 5,000 calls annually. In addition, the new site offers a first-of-its-kind onsite pet shelter to keep all family members safe and offers advanced protections and security system.
De Chateauvieux is a graduate of Nazareth College with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in women’s studies. She also completed a master’s degree in political science at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University.
Prior to joining Willow, de Chateauvieux served in a variety of roles in not-for-profits and university settings. She is active in the community on a variety of committees and was a graduate of Leadership Rochester in 2009.
“Willow’s 40-year history leading our community’s response to domestic violence, including the past five years of transformational growth, has created such momentum,” de Chateauvieux said in a statement, “to strengthen our partnerships, to expand our programs and prevention efforts and to remove barriers that survivors face on their journey to safety and healing. Willow’s future is bright thanks to our dedicated staff, board leadership and tremendous community support and collaboration.”
Willow’s board said de Chateauvieux displayed “tremendous leadership” during its transition, and worked hard to stabilize the organization. “Meaghan’s passion for our mission and values will ensure Willow’s important work continues and position it for an exciting future ahead,” officials said in the statement.
De Chateauvieux follows Marisol Ramos-Lopez, who was named chief executive in March and left abruptly in May. Ramos-Lopez was preceded by Bonnie DeVinney, who served in the leadership role on an interim basis when former head Jaime Saunders was named president and CEO of the United Way of Greater Rochester Inc. late last year.
Formerly known as Alternatives for Battered Women Inc., Willow’s mission is to prevent domestic violence and ensure every survivor has access to the services and supports needed along the journey to a safe and empowered life. It has served Monroe County for nearly 40 years and is the county’s only state-certified provider of domestic violence residential and nonresidential programs.
Willow Domestic Violence Center has tapped a long-time nonprofit leader as its new president and CEO.
Marisol Ramos-Lopez most recently served as commissioner of the City of Rochester Department of Recreation and Youth Services, administering and overseeing the operations of several bureaus and facilities with more than 400 staffers and an annual budget of $15 million.
Ramos-Lopez has more than 20 years of experience in management positions in local government. Under former Mayor William Johnson Jr., Ramos-Lopez was appointed chief of staff, making her the youngest senior official and highest-ranking female in his administration.
Ramos-Lopez was born in Miami Beach and came to Rochester in the late 1990s. Since then she has been involved in a number of area nonprofits, serving as a director at Causewave Community Partners, the Center for Youth Services Inc., the Ibero-American Action Development Corp. and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Ramos-Lopez is a founding board member and former chairperson of the Bivona Child Advocacy Center, which opened in 2004. Bivona works in partnership with other agencies to provide comprehensive, coordinated services to children affected by abuse and neglect.
In 2009, while overseeing the Northeast quadrant team for the City of Rochester, Ramos-Lopez told the Rochester Business Journal that her most meaningful career-related accomplishment was helping Rochester residents better their neighborhoods and create a better sense of community.
“I am honored to have been selected as Willow Center president and CEO,” Ramos-Lopez said this week. “My career path and focus on families and children has led me to this organization, whose mission mirrors my own. I am committed to continuing to strengthen the prevention of domestic violence in our community and provide a safe haven for those who need it.”
Ramos-Lopez last year was named an Athena Awards finalist by the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce and a Woman of Excellence in the Rochester Business Journal’s inaugural Women of Excellence Awards this year. In 2004 she was named one of RBJ’s Forty under 40 recipients.
“Marisol’s depth of experience will allow Willow to continue its comprehensive and collaborative approach to providing life-saving domestic violence services,” Willow’s board chairwoman Barbara Purvis said. “Willow is delighted to have Marisol at the helm as we enter the next phase of our service to the Rochester community.”
Ramos-Lopez replaces Jaime Saunders, who left the organization in January to serve as president and CEO of United Way of Greater Rochester Inc.
“I could not be more thrilled. Marisol is a community leader and very passionate for this community,” Saunders said. “But more than that, she brings so much heart to this important role. In her direct work with youth she can bring so much focus on the prevention side, as well as the heart of how we can best serve these families.”
Saunders said she’s excited to see the organization’s continued growth and Willow’s expanded services that Ramos-Lopez will shepherd for the nonprofit.
Formerly known as Alternatives for Battered Women Inc., Willow’s mission is to prevent domestic violence and ensure every survivor has access to the services and supports needed along the journey to a safe and empowered life.
Willow Domestic Violence Center raised more than $8 million in a three-year span to open a new facility last year. A nearly $5 million grant from the state Homeless Housing and Assistance Corp., coupled with more than $3 million in philanthropic support helped open the center.
The new Shill Family Building features 49 beds and is the largest domestic violence shelter in Upstate New York. Willow has doubled the size of its counseling center and expanded its hotline call center to field more than 5,000 calls annually.
The shelter also features a first-of-its-kind onsite pet shelter to keep all family members safe and offers advanced protections and security system.
“Willow reaches more than 7,000 individuals every year in this county and you can easily get lost in the complexity of it,” Saunders aid. “Willow Domestic Violence Center is the only certified provider in the county. It is the go-to in terms of intimate-partner violence within Monroe County, and it’s been a standout.”
United Way has supported Willow since 1982, Saunders noted, when very few people wanted to think about battered women or domestic violence.
Saunders noted Willow’s “continued growth and the trajectory that it’s on, both on prevention, as well as making sure that families who are suffering from domestic violence have the services and supports they need.
“I can’t think of a better leader to take it to that next level and to the next chapter.”
Willow Domestic Violence Center has tapped a 40-year veteran of the nonprofit sector as its interim president and CEO.
Bonnie DeVinney, who most recently was engaged in strategic initiatives for the United Way of Greater Rochester, will serve in the role for four to six months while the organization conducts a search for a permanent executive. Willow’s current leader, Jaime Saunders, has been selected as president and CEO of the United Way beginning in January.
“We are thrilled to have Bonnie, a well-known community leader, step in at this critical time to guide the agency forward while we conduct the search for a new president and CEO,” Willow chairman Barbara Purvis said in a statement. “Bonnie is passionate about our mission and committed to keeping Willow on our trajectory of incredible growth and expansion to serve all survivors.”
DeVinney brings more than four decades of nonprofit leadership experience to the role. Prior to her work with United Way she served as vice president and chief programs officer at Greater Rochester Health Foundation and as executive director at Common Ground Health, formerly Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency.
DeVinney also served on Willow’s Safe Place campaign committee from 2014 to 2017, helping to secure the center’s new facility and program expansion.
“I know the significant importance of Willow Center to our community, DeVinney said. “And it is my great honor to serve during this period of transition to ensure that Willow continues to meet the critical need for programs and services to support survivors of domestic violence and their children.”
DeVinney will help to oversee the organization’s full continuum of services, including the 49-bed emergency shelter, counseling center, 24/7 hotline, court advocacy and prevention education.
Willow’s board has engaged JK Executive Strategies to lead the search for its next CEO.
Willow’s mission is to prevent dating and domestic violence and ensure every survivor has access to the services and supports needed on the journey to a safe and empowered life.
Rochester’s Polite Ink. Sketch & Improv has partnered with Willow Domestic Violence Center on an upcoming benefit performance at Geva Theater Center.
The first annual comedy show, Oh Watta Night!, will appear on the Fielding Stage Nov. 11. Proceeds from the show will benefit Willow, which annually provides services to more than 7,500 survivors of domestic violence. The show is a combination of original sketch written and performed by the members of PI, with special guest stars from the local stage and improv communities.
The PG-rated show will include audience participation, officials said.
“When it comes to Oh Watta Night!, we promise you’ll get a funny feeling when you walk in the room and you’ll leave feeling like it ended much too soon,” said Karen Craft, Polite Ink. director. “This is the first of what we hope is many annual shows to Support Willow, which is a beacon of hope and a safe haven for people who are suffering in our community.”
In addition to the individuals served by Willow, the organization reaches another 12,000 through prevention education in the Greater Rochester area. Willow advocates provide guidance and support on the journey out of domestic violence.
Polite Ink. performs at the Multiuse Community Cultural Center in Rochester, where it serves as the in-house comedy troupe. More information about the benefit can be found at www.politeink.com.
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