MARCH 24, 2020
Yesterday’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order signed by the governor exempts agencies and workers who provide life-saving, essential services. The YWCA West Central Michigan is included in those exemptions. We’re still here for victims, survivors, and those who care about them.
We fully support the state’s measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus. We also know that safety is not always found at home. For thousands in our community, being at home increases the risk of domestic and dating violence, child sexual abuse, and sexual assault.
Please remember that important places where victims often get help or connect to other people — schools, faith communities, workplaces, salons — are no longer open. Physical separation does not have to mean isolation, and the YWCA has lots of information that describes ways you can help: Our Services
YWCA 24-Hour Helpline
March 20, 2020
A lot has happened in just a few days and those events have profoundly impacted the lives and activities of everyone in our community. At moments like these the human reaction is to seek out others – to help and to find comfort. In contrast, social distancing can make it seem like we are isolated from one another. The reality is, although social distancing is the new normal – and critically important – the YWCA is as close as ever when you need us.
Guided by public health recommendations, we have spent the last several days developing and implementing plans that ensure vital YWCA services remain available in ways that prioritize the safety, well-being, and needs of both survivors and our staff.
The YWCA will continue to provide in-person services through our Nurse Examiner Program for sexual assault victims seeking a medical-forensic exam (rape exam) and related care. Domestic violence victims and their children can still find safety at the YWCA’s emergency shelter, Sojourner House, as space allows. Both programs have formal protocols designed to minimize the likelihood of exposure to the coronavirus.
Beginning on Monday, March 23rd, YWCA services which typically involve one staff person and one client – such as counseling, advocacy, legal assistance, and safety planning – will be provided by phone or video conferencing.
To access the YWCA Nurse Examiner Program, Sojourner House, or any of the other services mentioned above, contact the YWCA’s 24-hour, confidential helpline.
We are temporarily suspending our in-home visits, as well as any activities that often involve a number of people. These include:
- Support Groups
- Men Choosing Alternatives to Violence
- Safe Connections (supervised parenting time and custody exchange)
- Young Women for Change/ Helen Claytor Center for Girls’ Leadership
Although these services are temporarily suspended, we’re staying in touch with the clients and participants. They may not see us as often, but we’re here for them and supporting them in their journeys.
Changes to the YWCA’s services are effective between March 23rd and April 13th.
During this time, access to the YWCA’s facility at 25 Sheldon will be strictly limited to YWCA staff, individuals being served by the Nurse Examiner Program, and pre-arranged appointments.
As this week comes to a close, I want to express my appreciation to the YWCA’s staff members who have worked incredibly hard under difficult circumstances, all the while continuing to support those who turn to this organization and one another.
It has been a heartening reminder that together we will make it through.
March 16, 2020
As news about COVID-19 develops, we recognize the uncertainty of the situation. We learn new information by the hour, and it causes us all stress and anxiety. Although it is evolving quickly, one thing that will never change is the priority the YWCA places on the well-being and safety of survivors and our staff.
Right now, we are open. Our confidential helpline is available 24/7 at 616.454.9922 (454.YWCA). If you need help, call us. If you have been sexually assaulted, our Nurse Examiner Program continues to offer no-cost exams. Our emergency shelter, Sojourner House, remains open for domestic violence victims. We know these issues do not stop even as global focus shifts to COVID-19.
We are making sure staff have necessary sick time if they need it. We are sanitizing and hand washing as much as possible. If a shelter resident develops symptoms, we have plans in place to provide separate living space to them to reduce exposure.
Survivors may feel even more isolated at a time like this. That’s why we’re doing everything we can to be available, accessible, and safe for survivors when they need us most. We are, of course, closely monitoring the news and guidelines from officials. We will give updates here as things change, and share resources (below).
We could not do this without the tireless efforts of medical professionals, public servants, and journalists who are working around the clock to keep our community safe. Thank you.