Yolo County – October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. On October 1st Empower Yolo, in partnership with local businesses and organizations in Yolo County, kicked off its 4th Annual Paint Yolo Purple – Month of Action campaign. October’s Paint Yolo Purple (the color purple representing Domestic Violence Awareness) campaign is meant to raise awareness about domestic violence, and help fund Empower Yolo’s essential intervention and prevention services for victims of domestic violence. These life-changing services help families at the most difficult times in their lives. “My kids were the reason I left my abuser and came to Empower Yolo for help,” says, Jasmine (the client’s name has been changed for confidentiality). “It wasn’t going to be a good life for them to see and hear the abuse; and things could have gone worse,” she says.

This year’s awareness efforts will also focus on financial abuse. Empower Yolo will be participating in the Allstate Foundation “Purple Purse Challenge”, a fundraising competition from October 2-31 to help raise essential, unrestricted funds for non-profits that help survivors of domestic violence and offer financial empowerment services.

Domestic violence is defined as any pattern of coercive, controlling behavior of one partner over another. One of the most harmful forms of domestic violence is called financial abuse, where abusers limit or prevent access to financial resources, like bank accounts and job opportunities. This is one of the main reasons victims stay in or return to an abusive relationship, purplepurse.com.

“Clients fleeing domestic violence often face barriers such as: no income, lack of financial stability, lack of job training, no access to childcare, and lack of transportation. These barriers make it difficult to apply for or get approved for new housing, leaving them trapped in the cycle of violence,” says Rachael Austin, Lead Client Navigator at Empower Yolo.

The “Purple Purse Challenge” aims to raise funds to help support financial empowerment services that agencies like Empower Yolo provide the community. Financial empowerment services include: budget counseling; credit repair guidance; career coaching; income tax support through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program; first month’s rent assistance and eviction prevention. Empower Yolo also helps clients become aware of financial resources that can provide supplemental support while they are getting back on their feet.

“In Yolo County, we have also seen a rise in rent cost, and a decrease in available affordable units. Clients seeking safety are unable to obtain or afford safe housing until they have found safety. Often clients living in homes where domestic violence is present are unable to obtain or keep a job due to the abuse. It isn’t until the client is safe and supported can they pursue financial stability,” says Austin.

Empower Yolo’s efforts to help provide financial stability to clients has been successful. In 2017 Empower Yolo provided financial empowerment services to over 373 clients. Services included: budget counseling, career coaching, financial, housing and child support services.

“Coming to Empower Yolo has changed my life,” says Jasmine. “They helped me with my kids by providing food, clothes and school supplies. They helped me with a restraining order and custody. My kids and I feel comfortable and safe,” she says. Jasmine is looking forward to building a new life. “I have to start completely over because I left everything behind, but I feel better about my new life because no one deserves to be treated badly or be hurt. I’m excited to move on and start a new life,” she says.

The Paint Yolo Purple Campaign includes: a countywide paper goods & cleaning products drive at Empower Yolo offices, resource centers, and the Clayground in Winters. The campaign’s kick off event was Mojo’s Celebrity Bartending Night in Woodland on October 2nd. Thank you to Mojo’s and our celebrity bartender, James Morgan, owner of Morgan’s Mill in Woodland. If you weren’t able to attend the event stop into Mojo’s for the cocktail for a cause, which is fantastic and benefits Empower Yolo for the entire month of October.

On October 6 the “Honky Tonk Against Human Trafficking” concert in Sacramento will benefit the Yolo County MDIC, which partners with Empower Yolo. Tickets can be purchased through the Davis Police Officers Association, or at the door. At the Yolo County Fairgrounds in Woodland the Woodland Sunrise Rotary Foundation will host a BBQ Dinner Event from 6-10 p.m. at Waite Hall. Help support one of Empower Yolo’s generous shelter kitchen remodel sponsors.

For dates, details, paper good drive locations and a full calendar of events go to empoweryolo.org, or pick up information on-site at Empower Yolo, 175 Walnut Street in Woodland, or the D Street Family Resource Center, 441 D Street in Davis. Help us Paint Yolo Purple in this Month of Action by participating in these great events! You can also help by:

Donating online to our “Purple Purse Challenge” at: https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/empoweryolo-purplepurse2018 in honor of survivors you know who have been impacted by domestic violence.

Help us reach our goal of $10,000 to help us with our shelter kitchen remodel campaign, and to run essential programs for our clients. Supporters who donate to the “Purple Purse Challenge” online will be entered for a chance to win the purple purse (symbolizing a survivor’s financial domain) designed by tennis champion, Serena Williams; or 2 Pink tickets to her April 10, 2019 concert!  One prize per person; the drawing will take place at the end of the challenge on October 31st.

Through your support Empower Yolo will have more success stories such as Jasmine. “I have a new place to live now once I leave the shelter. My kids are so happy to be moving into a new place with just the three of us and it won’t be the same like it was before when they were living in fear. Empower Yolo helped me with the deposit and first month’s rent. From there, I will keep working to support my kids and keep them safe. I am lucky because I have a job and can take care of my family and become financially stable. I feel like I’ve gotten a second chance since I’ve been at the shelter and I can start my life over,” she says.

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