Mission: Close to Home's mission is to foster community-wide responsibility to prevent and reduce the impact of domestic violence. We are building and supporting networks of community residents and organizations in local neighborhoods that want to take action and address the problem of domestic violence together. Close to Home believes that domestic violence is a critical community issue and that all community members - youth, residents, families, friends, neighbors, civic leaders, and organizational partners - are essential to designing and implementing the solutions to the problem. Close to Home seeks to create opportunities for people and organizations to:
- Learn about domestic violence in their community,- Discuss and reflect on domestic violence in their lives and communities,
- Develop skills to respond to and prevent domestic violence,
- Develop and implement solutions to domestic violence, and
- Build strong meaningful connections with each other.
Close to Home is leveraging the success of our local community engagement work to influence domestic violence prevention practice and policy locally and nationally.
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).