There’s an old saying that life’s roughest seas show the strength of our moorings.

The tempest created by the coronavirus is certainly making life rough for many people. Thankfully we have places like The Advocates to hook our anchors to as we ride out the storm.

The Advocates has been helping survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse in our community during all kinds of weather since 1991. While it’s obvious that places like St. Luke’s and The Hunger Coalition are on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, the team at The Advocates is right there as well.

The Advocates provides transitional housing, client advocacy and emergency financial assistance, support groups and counseling, and a 24-Hour Bi-Lingual Hotline for any needs related to abuse. All these services are free and confidential—and on the rise during what will undoubtedly be a long and challenging recovery from the pandemic for many.

“We’re here to help,” explained Shannon Nichols, The Advocates Director of Development and Engagement. “Isolation in always dangerous for many people. But you don’t have to be alone. We’re here. There are resources for you. Even if we aren’t the perfect resource we can help send you on the right path. We have a well-trained staff that has been doing this for a long time. We’re a resource for the community. We’re here for you.”

Tricia Swartling began as hotline volunteer for The Advocates a couple years after it was founded. A couple years later, she was hired as director and has been running the non-profit every since. She took some time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions

What are the biggest rewards from your work with The Advocates?

“The stories of how people are able to change their lives and leave abuse behind when they get support and access to resources. The incredible philanthropy and generosity of people in our community. Working with a highly committed and caring group of people.  My coworkers are so dedicated to making a difference and helping people change their lives. “

What are the biggest challenges?

“Having to constantly fund raise!  I also wish more people understood the level of the problem that relationship abuse – domestic, dating, and sexual violence is in our community.  That one in three women, one in four men, and one in five children will be impacted by some form of relationship abuse or violence in their lifetime.  It is a challenge to educate people about our work in the community – the breadth and depth of what we do and the impact our services have on so many people’s lives.”

How can the community help?

“The community can help by paying attention to the information we are posting, learning more about what The Advocates does, and contributing in a way that is meaningful to them – financially, products, or time.  I also think the community can help by being a friend to people who need help and safety facilitate their access to services.”

While the storm of the coronavirus makes life rough, it’s comforting to know that there are safe harbors like The Advocates here for our community.

To find out more or to make a donation, please go to theadvocatesorg.org. The 24 Hour Hotline is 208-788-4191.

By Mike McKenna

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