Domestic Violence Solutions of Santa Barbara County hosted the 14th annual Springtime Reception last Saturday at the George Washington Smith Estate in Montecito and introduced a new executive director to the organization who supports those whose lives are devastated by violence in the home.
This year's theme, “Springtime at Los Suenos,” hosted over 200 guests dressed in festive garden attire at the private event and raised more than $100,000 for the organization, which reaches more than 9,000 people annually in Santa Barbara County.
The mission of DVS is to end the intergenerational cycle of domestic violence by providing prevention and intervention services and changing society’s attitudes, beliefs and behaviors to effect social change.
On Monday, Charles Anderson started as the nonprofit's executive director. Anderson is a longtime domestic violence advocate with more than 20 years of management experience leading nonprofits, startups, company turnarounds and high-growth organizations.
Anderson explained to Noozhawk that after nine years working for the Matrix Institute on Addictions, he was planning to take a year off but felt drawn to his continued commitment to end domestic violence.
“DVS probably is one of the most important organizations that I think I’ve ever gotten to know, and now I have the privilege to be working with them,” Anderson said. “There is nothing more important in the world in my opinion than men and women taking care of teenagers and children, and that fact made me fill like this is the place that I wanted to be.”
An ambitious slate of goals is part of Anderson’s plans for DVS.
“I’m going to do everything that I can to enhance what we currently do — treat more clients, improve our facilities, raise more money to support our lifesaving cause,” Anderson said. “Everything that we can to make this the best organization that it can be.”
A special guest at the event was state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, who arrived at the event with Santa Barbara County Second District Supervisor Janet Wolf, and has been a solid supporter of DVS over the years and has historically contributed to the ongoing efforts of the organization to end the violence.
Jackson partnered with various community leaders in the mid-1970s to form the Violence in the Family Project, one of the first domestic violence treatment facilities in Santa Barbara that later evolved into The Shelter Services for Women that is now Domestic Violence Solutions for Santa Barbara County.
“DVS is doing wonderful work, and it’s so important,” Jackson said. “The issue of violence in the family, sexual violence is something that’s just not going away and in fact has increased. So an organization likes this that does wonderful work with the victims.”
Jackson also noted the unique qualities of the DVS support and programs.
“What’s equally important is that DVS also addresses bringing the perpetrator into the process — having them acknowledge their behavior and work to change it. And I think that is the key in the future,” Jackson said. “We have got to have women who will step forward, who will step forward, who feel safe in doing so, and we have got to make the perpetrators accountable.
“But the most important thing we can do is end domestic violence, and that’s going to take the work of women coming forward and men taking responsibility for their behavior.”
During the reception, there was a moment of lighthearted fun as performers Leslie Gangl-Howe and Nancy Nufer provided a burst of comic relief as The Whistle Sisters from England, trying desperately to break into show business in the United States by wooing a Las Vegas talent scout, played by actor Devin Scott.
DVS has provided confidential emergency shelters and a range of support services to victims of domestic violence since participating in the CETA-funded Violence in the Family project in 1977, and opened up its first emergency shelter in Santa Barbara that year followed by additional shelters in Lompoc and Santa Maria.
The emergency shelters provide a safe refuse for victims in crisis up to a duration of 45 days, and while in residence, clients receive a variety of comprehensive services, including individual counseling, food and clothing, and are provided with medical and legal advocacy, financial information and resources.
For women who have no place else to go and exceed the 45-day limit at the shelter, single women and women with children may enroll in the Second Stage transitional housing program that offers short-term residency in furnished one-bedroom apartments in Santa Barbara and Santa Maria for a period up to 18 months.
The DVS 24-hour Crisis Line provides trained DVS advocates who respond to domestic violence calls placed to 9-1-1 with law enforcement.
On Nov. 1, DVS will host the first-ever 5K Run/Walk for Love, where participants can “take a step to end domestic violence.” The event will begin at Goleta Beach. For more information, click here or call 805.963.4458.
— Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.