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Ellie Sonis

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1 reviews


Rating: 5 stars  

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.

Role:  Board Member & Became a Board Member because I believe in the model and what it is doing for the community.