Our Program Director, Norka Torres participated in a march and rally calling for the end to intimate partner violence in New Brunswick. This is the 6th consecutive year of her involvement. Norka has been working with the New Brunswick police department and represents the AECDC with the Coalition against Domestic Violence. The coalition has been instrumental in establishing the need for transitional housing for people who have been abused. She is frequently sought out by clients who need concrete services such as shelter for herself and children and referral to other programs in our area.
Domestic violence refers to more than physical abuse, although this does occur. Physical violence can occur as other forms of abuse escalate. Various forms of abuse that can lead to physical abuse are as follows: verbal abuse, emotional or mental abuse where the abuser causes the person to feel badly about her/ himself, sexual abuse where the abused person is forced to do things they do not want to do, threats to harm self or others to get his way, or economic abuse where the abuser withholds money or uses it to control the other person. In homes where children have witnessed violence, there is an increased probability that 60-to70% of the boys will become abusers and at least 50 to 60% the girls will become victims. There are many cases where the violence escalates to physical abuses that result in hospitalization for physical injury, or even death. Intimate violence in relationships is about power and control in the relationship. Help is available through mental health and family service agencies. Norka refers to these often.
During the past 15 months, AECDC has fulfilled 3,187 requests for services for 1,290 clients; many clients have multiple needs. The total value of the services provided was $252,622, an average of almost $200 per client. Some of the services provided saved clients money, while others actually added to the clients' income. For demographic information about our client population and details about the services provided, please see our 2013-14 Annual Report.
For the 3 months starting July 1 and ending September 30, 2014, 285 clients received 549 services worth $34,385. For the 12 months starting July 1, 2013 and ending June 30, 2014, 1005 clients received 2,638 services worth $217,787.
Recently, the AECDC has obtained housing and support for a teen Mom and her three-week old child and secured medical coverage for a chronically ill senior citizen. In addition, we were visited by a child we helped eight years ago, who is now attending college and wants to us his newly learned skills to help us help others. Click here to read each of these real stories and see how our vital work saves and changes the lives of our clients.
On September 16th AECDC offered its third class of the year to train young, expectant mothers on car seat installation and safety. The class was organized and conducted by Norka Torres, the AECDC Program Director, and Cookie Rivera, a certified national car seat trainer.
This car seat program is sponsored by a grant from State Farm Insurance Company. The funding included the car seats, training on how to use them and refreshments. The class was attended by Jennifer Young, State Farm's Public Affair Specialist. She enthusiastically shared with the group how much she learned during a previous session and how useful it had been with her own children, ages 3 and 5.
The basic object of the class is to teach the future parents how to choose and implement the donated car seats for infants through toddlers. Ms. Rivera also teaches how to choose and use the second stage car seat and booster seat in compliance with New Jersey state law regulating car seats for children from infancy to five years old. Ms. Rivera also taught the participants how to correctly and safely install the car seats to prevent a child from being injured.
Twenty-six expectant mothers took part in the class (several others had just given birth and were unable to attend). Many of the women are under 19 and are new drivers. About 95% are at the poverty level or at risk of poverty. Most of them are not working and many live with their parents who are at or near the poverty level. This group of women was referred to the program by the New Brunswick High School Pixie Program and the Eric B. Chandler Health Center. Participants can also be referred to the program from collaborating agencies throughout Middlesex County. In the future, more workshops will be held to provide additional expectant mothers with car seats and training.
In addition to AECDC volunteers, there were some college students who assisted during the program. They also benefited from the experience and talked about using what they learned with siblings and other children in their families.