CLOSE TO HOME DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PREVENTION INITIATIVE INC
Rating: 4.5 stars 2 2 reviews
Location: 42 Charles St Suite A Dorchester MA 02122 USA
Results: Close to Home’s innovative community mobilization model is having a deep impact on local community members as well an impact on the broader field. Through our network of 160 trained volunteers in Dorchester, we are reaching over 14,000 community members annually with information about how to both respond to and prevention domestic and sexual violence. One of the profound challenges in measuring the impact of a community mobilization model is that it is a process that seeks to change behaviors, attitudes and values over the long-term. We firmly believe, and public health research indicates, that changing behaviors, attitudes and values while building community cohesion will bring down rates of domestic and sexual violence. We are seeing changes in community members both in terms of their willingness to be active bystanders when violence happens and in terms of transformational change community members are experiencing related to their goals and values in their own relationships. The engagement of our youth, residents and community members in C2H activities and the civic life of the community is evidence of behavior change. We are achieving this kind of depth and reach through the implementation of community driven projects such as: developing three bi-lingual social marketing campaigns (English/Vietnamese), a youth literary magazine, and 35 digital stories; supporting youth to design, fund and install a mural at the Fields Corner T station with local business and government backing (2008); completing a youth-led survey of over 200 high school students from eight Boston Public Schools to learn more about youth experiences with domestic and sexual violence at home and in dating relationships, and the role of schools in supporting youth to deal with these issues (2008-09). Close to Home is also having a major impact on prevention discourse at the state and national level, where program and policy directions are determined. We are influencing the field to see the importance of engaging community members themselves in being central to developing solutions to domestic and sexual violence, and for government and private funding to be substantially increased to support this approach alongside current crisis response efforts. For this we have been recognized by Governor Deval Patrick as a promising domestic and sexual violence prevention model in Massachusetts (2007); and selected by the California Department of Public Health to train two CA communities (one rural, one urban) (2010).
Target demographics: Close to Home’s primary practice site is in the Fields Corner neighborhood of Dorchester, a diverse neighborhood of 23,000+ residents. Over 50 percent of the residents are people of color, many of whom are immigrants; it is home to a large and active Vietnamese community and has many residents from Haiti, Cape Verde, Ireland, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic. Each year, we work with over 160 youth and adult volunteers and over 75 organizations in Dorchester to reach 14,000 people. Civic engagement is a vital part of community life in Fields Corner. There are multiple civic associations and block groups, a diverse faith community, and several economic development projects under way, all of which contribute to the neighborhood’s vibrancy.
Direct beneficiaries per year: Our Dorchester network includes over 160 youth and residents, and over 75 local businesses and organizations
Geographic areas served: Our primary practice site is in the Dorehester section of Boston, Massachusetts.
Programs: Close to Home combines expertise in domestic and sexual violence with expertise in working in the community to draw attention to and to help its members design and implement community-centric solutions to these issues. Our goals are to: 1) Build a strong, active network of community members and organizations committed to fostering community-wide responsibility for domestic violence; 2) Develop local community leadership to identify solutions and take action; 3) Intervene where domestic and sexual violence is already present; and 4) Transform environmental factors and social norms to prevent domestic and sexual violence. We achieve these goals through our community mobilization process that includes the following four activities which occur in parallel: • Assess Community: Close to Home and community members engage in a process of inquiry and research to understand the local context, learn about the prevalence of domestic and sexual violence and identify community talents, resources, and assets to mobilize for prevention. • Start Conversations: Community members convene friends, neighbors and colleagues for discussions to raise awareness, foster critical thinking and dialogue, identify solutions, and recruit volunteers. • Build Skills: Close to Home facilitates training and team building to support skill and leadership development in violence prevention. • Take Action: Close to Home’s network members develop domestic and sexual violence prevention projects to implement in the community (e.g. our “1000 Actions” social action campaign in 2010).
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Our organization donates to Close to Home annually. I had the chance to interact with staff and community discussing issues and the effects of domestic violence.
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How to review something as powerful as Close To Home in this small box will be challenging. The national statistics are that one out of three women is affected by domestic and sexual violence each year. That is more than are affected by automobile accidents, heart disease, and cancer. Yet it is a silent trauma that has a voice only after the physical effects appear – the bruises, broken bones, psychological trauma, and even death. During a meeting a few years ago, a social worker said that she attended the funeral of one of her friends who had been killed by a partner. There were more than 75 people at the funeral. Where were all those friends and neighbors before the violence escalated? Close to Home is all about engaging those family members, friends, neighbors and the community to prevent the cycle of violence and create long term social change around the issue.
It all started for me in 2001 when I began to fund after school programs in Boston. Over those 9 years I learned that one of the major stresses on the school children were due to violence in their home. Violence that ultimately resulted in homelessness, crime, financial insecurity, teenage pregancy and drug use, to name a few. The more I researched and interviewed teachers and caregivers, the more I found that domestic and sexual violence is one of the major contributors to stress in children. I wanted to get to the root of the issue but could not find a program that was specifically geared towards prevention. 6 years ago I met Aimee Thompson, the Executive Director of Close to Home at a Thanksgiving dinner, and was immediately intrigued by her model of "building strong communities to prevent domestic violence". I have been a Board Member ever since.
Through these years I have watched the Fields Corner community of Dorchester pull together and bring voices to those who have been suffering in the shadows. I have been honored to watch a former gang member become a youth leader and write in Close to Home’s Youth Literary Magazine that “A real man knows how to rise above his anger. A real man knows how to handle a situation with his mind rather than his fist….I don’t put my hands on people. Because simply put I’m a Real Man.”
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...
Empowering local youth who were once victims of domestic violence to become advocates and then community activists around the issue. From silence and isolation, they have grown to become leaders in the organization and community.
If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...
Add more staff to enable the organization to reach outside the Dorchester neighborhood.