Shelter Updates | Featured Video | Growing Forward | Meet Morgan | DV on the Rise | Help the Willow
An Open Newsletter
Putting together this newsletter, during this pandemic, has been one of the most difficult tasks I've had here at The Willow. The last month has been overwhelming. Everything seems out of place and wrong. There is an avalanche of news out there and most of it brings with it anxiety and stress.

I would like to give you some good news. It's not about our organization specifically, but it is about our community. And it is about hope. And it is about people taking care of people.

I have watched, over the course of the last few weeks, the remarkable passion of our colleagues in the non-profit world, local government and the private sector bring our community light in the darkness. The Willow has worked with multiple local organizations including shelters, health and wellness resources, the city, the county, and private landlords to find solutions to the huge problem of housing in communal living spaces, and we have managed to relocate survivors into homes and safe shelter. This would not have been possible without all of these groups coming together to protect our most vulnerable.

At the same time, Just Food organized a group of amazing volunteers to deliver food to those who cannot leave their homes. Local restaurants offer free lunches to the community and step in to assist the school district in providing lunch for students who aren’t in school. Headquarters continues to offer a sympathetic ear to those overwhelmed by stress, anxiety, depression, and hopelessness. Similar programs are being echoed in Franklin and Jefferson counties. Our community has come together in ways that are innovating, resourceful, and life-saving.

Individuals have stepped up as well, making these not-for-profit activities possible with their generosity. Your giving through this pandemic has been remarkable and made the level of service these organizations provide possible. Our nonprofits could not do what they do without this backing, both through donations of time and money.

I was born and raised in Lawrence. I left for a few years, but I came back. I came back because this is where my family is, this is the place that I call home. And I have never been as proud to call this community my home as I have been over these last few weeks. Thank you all for your kindness, your outpouring of donations, and your willingness, when things are difficult, to step in and help.

Thank you all,

Will Averill
Director of Communications
Shelter Updates
The Willow was featured in an April KCTV5 story on Domestic Violence and COVID-19.

The Willow has been working to move survivors and their families into safe housing as group living presents huge challenges during this crisis.

This need led The Willow to launch the Landlords Save Lives campaign, which asked landlords to help us in housing these survivors through easier access to leases, reduced rent, and accelerated intakes. We have been able to successfully house all of our survivors between shelter and homes, and continue our community advocacy services during this time. We are also working to provide current resources on our COVID-19 page.
Video of the Month
Last year we teamed up with our friends at Barefoot Marketing to come up with some informational videos about The Willow. This one features an overview of who we are and what we do.

The Willow provides a broad range of services from emergency shelter to individual advocacy, referrals, financial assistance, court advocacy, transitional housing, and prevention and education. Our goal is to break the cycle of violence at every point and provide survivors with the information and resources they need to start again.

The name "Willow" was chosen because a branch from the Willow tree if broken off, can be replanted and grown into a new tree. And like the Willow branch, we hope to help survivors grow into new, violence-free lives.
Growing Forward: The Willow's capital campaign
We are excited to be launching the Growing Forward capital campaign to complete the renovations on our current shelter, and to purchase a second shelter property, adding an additional twenty beds to our capacity.

Started with a generous donation from the Mary & Wint Winter, Jr. Family Donor-advised Fund, Growing Forward looks to raise these funds within the next six months.
We are joined in this campaign by Byrne Pelofsky & Consultants LLC., whose years of experience fundraising have helped us already in applying for a number of grants and foundation funds. If you are interested in further information regarding the campaign, and interested in donations, please contact our Executive Director, Megan Stuke.
Meet Morgan!
Morgan Seaman is our Foster Care Transition Advocate, working with kiddos who are about to age out of foster care to provide information, referrals, and resources. He's been with us for a few months now, and he's a great advocate. We caught up with him shortly before stay-at-home started, to learn a little more about him, and the program.

1) Give us a quick rundown of your program

The goal of the Foster Care Transition program is to increase knowledge and awareness of domestic violence, human trafficking, safety planning and access to community resources amongst the foster care population in Douglas Franklin and Jefferson counties by facilitating weekly groups in placement (group homes and JDC's). 

2) What do you enjoy about The Willow?

The ethos....the environment.....I feel a deep kinship to everyone here- we all share the vision of an equitable world, attained through collective struggle and hard work. I have yet to meet one unmotivated Willow employee. The work being done at the Willow is vital to a thriving, peaceful community.

3) What's your favorite place in Lawrence

This is a tough question to answer....so I guess to cover all the bases:   Mass street!  Where else in Lawrence can you walk with a presidential candidate (Bernie- 2016), quasi-riot with 40,000 drunk folk, Honk for Hemp, ride in an art parade, busk, eat Burger Stand AND get a $5 parking ticket (remember when they were a dollar!)??

4) What do you do when not at work?

Having three boys (ages 6, 4 and 14 months), my life outside of work is pretty much consumed by attempting to parent this mutinous bunch of rabblerousers. My wife does her best to maintain us all- bless her. When I did have free time, 6 years ago, I occupied it by sculpting, painting and creating music, watching samurai flicks and attempting to practice Aikido. I am becoming increasingly interested in permaculture and sustainable/regenerative farming.
Domestic Violence on the Rise
There has been a lot of press nationally about the rise of domestic violence due to stay-at-home orders.

Isolation is one of the tools used by abusers to control survivors. In addition, stay-at-home reduces the number of opportunities a survivor has to reach out for help, particularly if the abuser is monitoring their phone and internet use.

The Willow is working to provide alternative options to the phone hotline, such as text hotlines, the use of social media, and making sure to have posters and information available in essential business as stores. It is our hope that survivors know we are still open and available to help them.
If you are concerned about a loved one, colleague, or friend who may be in an abusive relationship, there are some great resources on our website, including a fantastic pdf document on DV in the virtual workplace that you can share with colleagues in your company. Please take the time to check it out. You can download it HERE.
Help The Willow
Want to help? The Willow is facing enormous challenges including moving survivors to apartments, providing household furnishings, assisting with rent, and continuing to provide uninterrupted shelter and services, and could use your help. If you can donate, please be sure to use the designation COVID-19 Relief so the funds go directly towards helping survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking in our community
during this difficult time.
The Willow is in need of an Art Program Coordinator for our shelter program. Apply today!