Any of you who have spoken to Alice Lutz, our CEO, in the last 6 months have probably already heard our new agency mantra… we have been quietly helping families in crisis for 75 years and it is time to make some noise. This theme of “helping out loud” and serving as a “voice for the Triangle” will be obvious when you attend Wake Up with TFS, our annual breakfast on Thursday, Sept. 6 in the PNC Arena. This breakfast is held as a way to bring community members together and to recognize the leaders who have served on our Board of Directors, Advisory Board and a host of other committees over the last year. But we will also be celebrating this year and making a lot of noise. We have an amazing staff who tirelessly help our clients day in and day out. We have clients who work hard to improve their lives and want to inspire others to do the same. It’s only an hour and a half of your time and you really don’t want to miss it. Walking in the door last year it looked like a Who’s Who for Raleigh when you glanced around the tables. The food is excellent, the program is brief, the conversation is stimulating and it is just a great way to spend a Thursday morning.
The good news is Alice shot down all of my ideas about how to make noise. Unfortunately there won’t be any noise makers, staff cheers, or bullhorns. But there will be an opportunity to hear about the things an amazingly talented staff are doing to help your friends and neighbors in our community!
So go right now to our website and buy your tickets. Take some friends from your office. Head over with your spouse before you each start your days. See you there!
Today I am excited to highlight a staff member in the Triangle on Tuesday’s blog. Barbara Rodriguez is the Supervisor of Family Safety Division which includes our DOSE (Developing Opportunities for a Safe Environment) Program and our Time Together Supervised Visitation Program. Barbara recounts her most memorable experience of her 4 years at Triangle Family Services as her recent interactions with a DOSE client diagnosed with terminal cancer. He began the program as a court-ordered participant with a lot of anger and a really bad attitude. By the end of his 26 weeks he asked to be a spokesperson for the agency and remarked that the program had “saved his life.” Barbara commented, “This client epitomizes the difference we are able to make when someone wants to change. The clients that are court ordered into our program usually don’t want to change at first; it takes several weeks of participation until they begin to see the benefit to examining their beliefs and actions. But each time we get through to a client, we haven’t just made an impact in his life; we have also improved the lives of his family members and friends because we have helped him change his abusive attitudes and behaviors.” Barbara doesn’t just have the antidotal evidence that the DOSE program is changing lives and helping families, she also can demonstrate some pretty amazing outcomes. The national data on clients ordered to Batterer Intervention Programs is that 67% reoffend after a year of completing the program. Only 2% of clients who complete the DOSE program reoffend after a year. That is an amazing comparison. I asked Barbara why she believes we have such a remarkable success rate. “Our goal is to change attitudes not just behaviors. When a client enters the DOSE program he is assigned a case manager who works with him throughout his time in the program. The case manager meets with him if he is having issues in group, helps him access other agency resources if there are financial problems or mental health problems in the home, and helps him work through any issues that would keep him from attending group.”
Ironically, when you ask Barbara about her most difficult client, it is also the story of her biggest achievement. She tells about a client who had very strong views about women and their subservient place in respect to men. He did not appreciate his group leader being a woman and he was terminated from the program because of his attitude and negative behaviors in group and towards Barbara. The judge sent him back to DOSE and during his second time through, he began seeing Barbara and the other staff at TFS as his allies rather than his enemies. He engaged in the program and successfully completed it.
Barbara sees her role with clients as that of “compassionate accountability.” “We hold the clients accountable for their behavior, but we also offer them hope. If they make these changes they can provide better lives for their children. They can choose to stop being abusive and that choice is what can break the cycle of violence in their family.”
Barbara is obviously a dedicated and passionate staff member. I wanted to know about what she does in her free time. As the mother of two teenagers she doesn’t have a lot of free time. As a new graduate student at UNC-CH School of Social Work she is going to have even less! Barbara was accepted into their part-time program and starts taking classes in August. We are all so proud of her for being accepted into such a competitive graduate program. How will she do it all? She has an amazing team of professionals who work in the DOSE and Supervised Visitation program! And, “who needs sleep!”
The first week of July the NC Dept. of Justice released a report on the number of domestic violence related homicides in NC. A law was passed in 2007 that requires this report to be released every year. Wake County has remarkable statistics compared to the rest of the state. Of the 106 domestic violence related murders, only 4 were in Wake County. In all the other counties the number of DV homicides track in proportion to or above the population in that county. In Wake County we have a dramatically low DV related homicide rate compared to the rest of the state. Why is this?
I have a couple of theories… Wake County has an incredible DV Task Force made up of attorneys, judges, district attorneys, clerks of court, victim service providers, offender service providers, police officers, sheriffs, and even more folks who get together monthly to problem solve and discuss DV in our community. I am proud to say that Barbara Rodriguez, the Supervisor for our Family Safety Division, and Johnette Smith, one of our DOSE case managers attend the meetings every month. I even get there more often than not.
People (men and women) who commit acts of domestic violence in Wake County are ordered to participate in treatment or jail. At TFS, we have the largest batterer intervention program in the state. We are frequently asked to consult with other programs in the state. At one point, we even met with dignitaries from Moldova (per Elaine Marshall’s request) to assist them in starting a similar program. We know we can’t fix everyone, but we have some pretty amazing success stories. The last time we did research (about 6 months ago) we found out that only 2% of men who successfully complete the DOSE program re-offend within the year. That compares with the national average of 67% who re-offend within one year.
I am proud of our staff. I am motivated to continue working hard for our clients to help them make changes. I am humbled by the fact that we play a role in standing up and making sure Wake County is a community that doesn’t tolerate abuse.
News brief: http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/11274050/
NCDOJ DV Report for 2011: http://www.ncdoj.gov/getdoc/17e5e3bc-e522-47fe-b0a6-d729af570844/2011-Final-DV-Homicide-Report.aspx
[Lisa Allred Draper, COO and Amelia Allen, Peace College Intern~1st Blog Post]
Welcome to the weekly Tuesdays with Triangle! blog. I am going to be providing updates on TFS programs, people, and ways to connect with our agency and the community.
As we all know, tomorrow is July 4th, which is a great day for connecting with the important people in your life. Most folks have the day off and are looking for ways to stay cool and celebrate Independence Day. Yesterday we asked a few of our staff members what their plans were for the fourth. Here is a list of some of the things they will be doing:
- Cooking/grilling out
- Spending time with friends, family, and significant others
- Attending the Festival for the Eno
- Attending one of the many local firework displays
As you’re celebrating with watermelon-spitting contests, fireworks, or splashing around the pool, please take a moment to be grateful for the abundance in your life. I know I will. I am grateful to work with a team of people who genuinely care about the clients we serve and the mission of the agency. I am also grateful for my improving health (I’ve had mono), my delightful daughter, and access to a pool that I get to float around in all day tomorrow.
What are your plans for the 4th? What are you grateful for?