FLATHEAD NONPROFIT HIGHLIGHT: The Abbie Shelter
Q&A with Hilary Shaw, director of the Abbie Shelter
Go Local donates 3% of each issue’s advertising revenue to a local nonprofit organization. This issue supports The Abbie Shelter.
What is The Abbie Shelter’s mission?
To promote safety, independence, and empowerment to survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
What services and/or programs does your organization provide?
- 24-hour Helpline, (406) 752-7273
- Legal advocacy
- Mental health counseling and support group
- Community education
Who do you serve in the Flathead Valley?
We serve victims and survivors (and thrivers) of domestic and sexual violence. This includes women and men, young and old, LGBTQ and straight, and people of all colors and creeds.
What’s the backstory? When/why did your organization get started?
Our organization began in 1976 at the height of the women’s movement, when national attention was – for the first time – drawn to the extraordinarily high rates of violence that women were suffering at the hands of their intimate partners. What started as a grassroots, volunteer-led 24-hour hotline has now evolved to a multi-tiered and multi-program nonprofit agency, leading the way for trauma-informed care for all in our community.
We’ve learned that when people receive access to the resources they really need, they can create change in their lives.
Have the issues/needs in the Flathead changed since you started?
Yes and no. Since organizations like ours started opening in the late seventies, one change is a significant drop in the number of victims who kill their abusive partners in self-defense. While the number of people affected by domestic and sexual violence has not changed much in the past 40 years (that’s the bad news), the good news is that people now have a place to turn for help and support.
What’s something you’ve learned from your work that you wish more people knew?
We’ve learned that when people receive access to the resources they really need, they can create change in their lives. We’ve learned that survivors are the bravest people we’ve ever met. We’ve learned that one loving parent can protect kids through the darkest of transitions. We’ve learned that abusive relationships can be nearly impossible to leave safely… and yet with tons of support, it can be done.
What kinds of assistance/opportunities would help your organization?
Helpline, helpline, helpline… if you love listening and supporting others and always have your cellphone with you, consider volunteering 3–5 days a month on our helpline.
What are some of your main events and/or fundraising efforts?
Our flagship annual FUNraiser is The Vagina Monologues, held every February (February 14th and 15th 2020, at the O’Shaughnessy Center in Whitefish). It’s a blast!
How would you ideally like to affect the Flathead Valley?
We want every person who suffers from domestic and sexual violence – past and present – to know that we are here and that we are a resource for them.
How can folks donate to/get involved with your organization?
Visit our website at www.abbieshelter.org and click on get involved!
To get in touch with the Abbie Shelter call 406-752-7273 or visit their website at www.abbieshelter.org.
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