November 17, 2010
360 Communities falls far short of expectations for survivors of domestic violence. While this agency professes to empower survivors of violence to attain self-sufficiency, this is merely lip service when a woman attempts to rise above her past and become an accepted member of society. My personal experience with 360 Communities' Lewis House began when I attended their battered women's support group. During my tenure as a "victim" of abuse, the staff turnover was so frequent that one barely had time to develop a clinical gestalt with advocates and support group leaders before they were fired, downsized, or otherwise transferred to other positions. One particular advocate was not even allowed to say goodbye to the women she served.
Years later, when I had successfully overcome my personal issues with domestic violence I felt a strong desire to give back to my community in the area of domestic violence. I applied as a volunteer at 360 Communities Lewis House, and was told that survivors of abuse made excellent volunteers, and that I could begin training at the next possible opportunity. I agreed to attend additional training in sexual assault services, even though the training was a heavy burden on me because I was also attending college and working toward my Bachelor's degree in Human Services.
Understandably, volunteers must undergo a background check, and I was honest about my past as a survivor of abuse, in which I had pled guilty to a charge of disorderly conduct in self-defense when I was still in an abusive relationship. I was told that this would not be a problem, so I continued with my training. When I was about half-way through with my training I was told that I was not eligible to volunteer. This was done via e-mail; I was not even given the courtesy of a personal conversation. When I finally saw the email several days later, I asked about my training and was told that I could indeed complete my certification in Sexual Assault Services. This too was a lie. When I arrived for training my training log had been removed from the folder, and when I asked about it the trainer stated that she didn't know what I was talking about. I called the volunteer coordinator and was told that I would no longer be able to attend training.
During my early training with 360 Communities I was told that this organization does not distinguish between volunteers, clients, or board members; we are simly all "neighbors" and should be treated as such. This is a very noble goal, and one that 360 Communities should pay more attention to actually doing, rather than just paying lip service. It appears that 360 Communities would rather keep women trapped in the cycle of abuse rather than regard them as contributing members of society.
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...
Being denied the opportunity to give back to my community and serve others who are experiencing many of the issues I myself have faced in the past.
Ways to make it better...
If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...
Live what my organization touts as its mission statement.
Client Served & Volunteered to serve battered women.
Review from Guidestar