By Cathy Farman

I am the chair of Empower Yolo’s board of directors. I joined the board of Empower Yolo two years ago, primarily because Empower Yolo operates the county’s only shelter for families seeking safety from domestic violence.

I had a debt of gratitude I’d been long wanting to repay, remembering a loved one’s experience with a domestic violence shelter that saved her life by providing her a safe home, with legal and counseling services to support her choice to leave her abuser.

Empower Yolo has long served survivors of other forms of violence too, including sexual assault, sex abuse, stalking, trafficking and child abuse. As a board member, I am proud of Empower Yolo’s founding mission to provide survivors of family and sexual violence with counseling and legal services, but even prouder this year as Empower Yolo broadens its mission to promote safety, health and resilience for our entire community.

By merging with Yolo Center for Families on Jan. 1, Empower Yolo has doubled its budget and its staff. While its size has only doubled, Empower Yolo’s ability to better serve individuals and families in need has increased exponentially.

Our Center for Families program provides families with access to a range of programs, services and information to address the many challenges they face today. Empower Yolo’s staff partners with families to identify their needs, address and resolve issues, and improve lives. Our resource center programs and services include mother’s support groups, child development programs, parent support, benefit enrollment, housing assistance, financial coaching, health education, case management and counseling.

As board chair, I am fortunate that the two boards of Empower Yolo and Center for Families are merging as seamlessly as the organization itself. I am lucky to be working with the following capable and committed directors: Holly Burkett, Joe D’Angina, Marsha Toy Engstrom, Susan Gefter, Jim Grieshop, Leilani Kupo, Karen Leaf, Karen Naliboff, Sheryl Patterson and Julie Vogt.

Together, we will be working this year to assist our executive director ,Lynnette Irlmeier, and the entire staff to ensure that we serve the clients of the former Empower Yolo and Center for Families.

I truly believe Empower Yolo is one of our community’s greatest assets — casting a tightly woven safety net throughout our county to catch individuals in need, to connect them with resources to keep them safe, healthy and resilient. I hope you will take some time this year to join me at one of our events to support Empower Yolo’s work.

Empower Yolo invites you to its second annual “Honor Our Sponsors” event on Thursday, Feb. 25, from 6 to 9 p.m. on the Seasons Restaurant patio, 102 F St. in downtown Davis. RSVP to Natalia@empoweryolo.org by Feb. 18. The suggested donation is $20.

This event is meant to honor current sponsors of Empower Yolo and to publicly thank them for their support of our essential, life-saving programs and services. We also invite potential sponsors to attend this event to learn more about our programs. You’ll have a chance to enjoy good food and good company while also learning how you, too, might be able to make a meaningful difference in the lives of women and children in our community.

— Cathy Farman is chair of Empower Yolo board of directors. She is the recipient of the 2015 A.G. Brinley Award for Outstanding Community Service, recognizing her 18 years of volunteer leadership with Davis schools.

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