Jessica Ellis

Jessica Ellis, program director, delivers food delivers food and supplies.

This is part of a series of articles focused on the area nonprofit community and the impact on our region.

Much like everyone else, when word of the pandemic began spreading our biggest concern at NewStory Center was toilet paper. We had a residential shelter, that was at capacity with nine households, and the idea of running out of this important item was a bit terrifying. As we quickly learned, this would become the least of our concerns. We were heading into a major crisis that would have a significant impact on us all. As an essential service, NewStory Center was committed to making sure that survivors of domestic and sexual violence continued to have access to comprehensive, trauma-informed services.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 did not stop domestic or sexual violence. In fact, the panic surrounding it made situations worse for some of the most vulnerable among us. NewStory Center continued to provide emergency shelter, a 24/7 crisis line, sexual assault response advocacy, supportive case management, and medical and legal advocacy. Staff continued to provide in-person advocacy in court for those seeking Relief from Abuse Orders, until the court moved to a completely virtual system. While the office was closed and everyone worked remotely, individual staff members visited the office each day to prepare care packages that included food, personal care items, and household supplies for survivors who requested them, as well as ensuring that our residential emergency shelter remained stocked and that survivor needs were being met, all while maintaining the recommended social distancing guidelines.

A sense of normalcy is returning to NewStory Center and our office is now open to the public. Staff and visitors are expected to follow all COVID-19 safety protocol, including the use of masks. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, please contact our 24/7 crisis line at (802) 775-3232.

Jennifer Yakunovich, development director, NewStory Center.

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