Friday, December 14, 2012

Quick Links - Good Reads

Weekly Round Up – Things We Thought Were Interesting

Time is precious and a hot commodity. So, some of our blogs are short and sweet – just quick links to good reads. The topics change week to week. We got this nifty idea from one of our favorite bloggers. So feel free to read, browse and share. Good stuff!
PR/Professional News
Face-to-Face Marketing Still Works Best
7 Tips for Better Blogging
31 Ways to Boost Your Blog for 2013
Want Clients? Amaze Them

Just Interesting
USA is living longer, but sicker
Pope sends first tweet, has 1 million+ followers

Friday, December 7, 2012

Quick Links - Good Reads

Weekly Round Up – Things We Thought Were Interesting

Time is precious and a hot commodity. So, some of our blogs are short and sweet – just quick links to good reads. The topics change week to week. We got this nifty idea from one of our favorite bloggers. So feel free to read, browse and share. Good stuff!

PR/Professional News
Stock Art – Yes or No?
Are We On the Same Page? – Funny video
Balancing Work & Life

Just Interesting
The Top 5 Regrets
Post-Surgery Star Athletes
Exercise Can Protect Against Cancer – and help cancer patients
 
Caught Looking Good
Zappos & Super Shipping

Friday, November 30, 2012

Quick Links - Good Reads

Weekly Round Up – Things We Thought Were Interesting

Time is precious and a hot commodity. So, some of our blogs are short and sweet – just quick links to good reads. The topics change week to week. We got this nifty idea from one of our favorite bloggers. So feel free to read, browse and share. Good stuff!

PR/Professional News
Create "an Experience"
The Ultimate Blogging How-To Guide
Content is King

Just Interesting
Time for a Career Change?
A Cure for Paralyzed Dogs? – Could help people, too
Q&A with the Four-Hour Work Week’s Tim Ferriss

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Small Business Saturday Yields Big Results

So, how many of you celebrated Small Business Saturday? For shoppers, where did you go and what did you see? And for shop owners, what did you offer and what did you do?

This was the third year of what’s increasingly being recognized as a great opportunity for buyers to shop small and shop local – and for small businesses to seize the momentum of a national movement.
Small Business Saturday was launched in 2010 by American Express as a way to encourage shopping at independent locally-owned retailers, falling on the heels of Thanksgiving Day and sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

The reviews generally are positive. Participation is growing both among merchants and buyers. But the most positive reviews come from businesses who proactively positioned themselves – they planned, prepared and promoted their events – and from shoppers who had a memorable “experience.”
USA Today reported that consumers spent $5.5 billion at independent retailers during this year’s Small Business Saturday (up from a projected $3.3 billion). And according to a Consumer Insights Survey, 67% of Americans who know about Small Business Saturday planned to “shop small” this year (nearly doubled from 34% last year). Merchants also reported that sales picked up that day and that this year sparked more participation than last.


As we read reports from around the country, we were impressed with some of the innovative approaches that local businesses took. And for those reporting lackluster results, we noticed there also were a few critical mistakes – in lack of planning, lack of execution and lack of promotion. So, our takeaways for a successful event next year:
 
Plan proactively, starting now. You can’t wait until the week before or the month before to launch a successful Small Business Saturday. You have to come up with the specifics of your promotion in order to execute the plan. Even if it’s as simple as offering a discount – or as elaborate as hosting a special event with fun and festivities. If you let the time get away from you, what could have been a memorable occasion – and profitable event – may prove disappointing and stressful.

Map out the specifics, because preparation is everything. Do you have a theme? Do you have a plan? Do you have the needed personnel? What about potential partners? Ask yourself: What will draw customers to your store and is it enough that they’ll want to return again and again? If customers come to your shop for Small Business Saturday, what will they find? Describe the mood of the place - what will entice them to buy, linger, have fun and spread the word? What will make the day worth your while and have you planned accordingly?
Promote, promote, promote. Even with the best of plans, if no one knows about your event, you’ll be lucky to get the participation to make it a success. Have you taken advantage of opportunities to advertise? If you don’t have the budget, have you seized the opportunity to spread the word with current customers, through social media channels, or in a partnership with other small local businesses? Remember, advertising and word-of-mouth start well before you open doors for that special day.

Caught looking good – One of our favorite local promotional pieces was Baltimore’s 2012 online gift guide featuring items made in and/or specific to Charm City. If more local shops promoted their unique products/events, we think they’d also see great results!
Take a moment now to think about the great opportunity that lies ahead for Small Business Saturday 2013 and throughout the year. Visualize it, plan it, and seize it!  

Did something really wow you this year? Email me at gwen@milestonespr.com. Share it and we may give a shout out!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Quick Links - Good Reads

Weekly Round Up – Things We Thought Were Interesting

Time is precious and a hot commodity. So, some of our blogs are short and sweet – just quick links to good reads. The topics change week to week. We got this nifty idea from one of our favorite bloggers. So feel free to read, browse and share. Good stuff!
PR/Professional News
5 PR Tips from James Bond
10 Steps to Great Content
Do You Know Your Perfect Customer?
Why Like, Comment, Share? – How to really connect & really get results

Just Interesting
Steven Spielberg Speaks in Gettysburg
Maryland, Rutgers to Move to Big Ten?
Taking it Easy? - Just 3% of Americans meet minimum physical activity recommendations

Caught Looking Good
Mom in Near Fatal Accident Running Again  – and loving it. Read this & be inspired!
PR News Director Donates Hair 5th Time
PA Hospital Sees 44% Reduction in Re-admissions  

Friday, November 9, 2012

Quick Links - Good Reads

Weekly Round Up – Things We Thought Were Interesting
Time is precious and a hot commodity. So, some of our blogs will be very short and sweet – quick links to things we found interesting that we thought you might, too. The topics change week to week. We got this nifty idea from one of our favorite bloggers. So feel free to read, browse and share. Good stuff!

PR/Professional News
20 Common Social Media Myths
21 Blogging Tips

Just Interesting/Informative
Stuck? Great read on gaining new perspective – and finding a solution
50-Plus Runners - Fastest-Growing Marathon Set
Try, And Try Again – 50 Famously Successful People Who Failed at First
Warning Signs of an Abusive Relationship

Caught Looking Good
PR Lessons from a Young Pop Star

Thursday, November 8, 2012

In a Second, Things Can Change

A Tribute to My Dad

Today would have been my father's 73rd birthday. But nine months ago yesterday, a massive heart attack took him away much too suddenly and very unexpectedly. None of us were prepared then or now for the loss or void that followed so swiftly, so deeply and so heart wrenchingly. There's an ache that never quite disappears but the memories become so vivid and so powerful so immediately.

Thankfully, I’d had a long, casual conversation with my father just days before he departed. And today, that gives me much comfort, though it doesn’t take away any of the pain. We spoke of many things, neither of us aware then that this would be our last conversation or that those would be our final words. One moment, though, we were saying our sweet goodbyes and then just 3 days later, I’d see him no more.

For my mother, it was even more startling. She and my father had run errands, were out and about town, and all seemed well. He’d made a purchase and they’d enjoyed lunch. They were seen by many friends and acquaintances who expressed their own shock at having seen him just hours before – looking good and feeling fine. I heard those words over and over as many stopped by to share their own memories. And, their words gave us many cherished thoughts to cling to in the days and years ahead.

The lesson learned for me, the moment I got that dreaded call, was how quickly things can change.

In tribute to my Dad, I wanted to take a moment to share the things I’ll remember most, miss the most and the life-long lessons that he instilled.
They weren’t necessarily expressed as such before, though I hope he knew how much he was cherished, how much of a difference he made and how special he was.
What I’ll Remember Most 
·       My father was a farmer in Virginia. He loved the great outdoors, the freedom of his independent profession and was the hardest working man I know
·       He knew no strangers and was known for his distinctive wave and a ready smile
·       He was passionate about many things and wasn’t afraid to share his views
·       He made many midnight runs to pick me up as a teen, where we’d often find him asleep as he waited for our return
·       How giving he was to so many and how quietly. If you weren’t the recipient, you never would have known
·       That occasional look that preceded the occasional temper
·       The ever present hat, white pocket Ts, plaid flannel shirts, jeans, boots and overalls
What I’ll Miss the Most
·         Puppy dog eyes and a smile that lit up the room
·         The biggest, strongest hands I know
·         The scent of the earth - dusty roads and fields, gas and oil, tobacco and dirt
·         A quiet unassuming nature but a boisterous laugh 
·         Meandering drives where he was unrushed, looking left and right, taking in all around him
·         Long lingering conversations that sometimes got him sidetracked J
The Life-long Lessons that he Instilled
·         Love what you do and do what you love
·         Pursue your passion - hence the name of my blog
·         Live with honor and integrity
·         Actions speak louder than words
·         It’s the little things that matter most

In life, my Dad taught me first and foremost a love of honesty and respect, of morals and values  evidenced by how we live more than by what we say. As a writer, I’ve learned from Dad the power and impact of words – both spoken and unspoken - and that we communicate in all that we do. He also taught me that the influence others have on us and us on them can be profound - even when we don't know it at the time. 

I’m honored to be my Daddy’s girl and I treasure everything he gave, provided and instilled. 


Friday, October 19, 2012

Quick Links - Good Reads

Weekly Round Up – Things We Thought Were Interesting

Time is precious and a hot commodity. So, some of our blogs will be very short and sweet – quick links to things we found interesting that we thought you might, too. The topics change week to week. We got this nifty idea from one of our favorite bloggers. So feel free to read, browse and share. Good stuff!
 
PR/Professional News
Instagram Success
13 Facebook Mistakes That Scare Fans Away
10 Ways to Beat the Blogging Blahs

Just Interesting
5 Ways to Live the Life You Want

Friday, October 12, 2012

Quick Links - Good Reads

Weekly Round Up – Things We Thought Were Interesting

Time is precious and a hot commodity. So, some of our blogs will be very short and sweet – quick links to things we found interesting that we thought you might, too. The topics change week to week. We got this nifty idea from one of our favorite bloggers. So feel free to read, browse and share. Good stuff!


PR/Professional News
35 Experts on How to Maximize Facebook
9 Lessons from the Presidential Debate

Just Interesting
How a Child Changes You
Working Out Leads to Higher Salaries
Running Feels Easier for Men When Women Are Watching
Hugmobile?

Caught Looking Good
25 Twitter Header Photos to Inspire You
17-year-old entrepreneur shares lessons learned

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Ugly Truth - Domestic Violence Claims 166 Lives in PA in 2011


 Last year, 166 people lost their lives to domestic violence. Just in Pennsylvania. That’s approximately one every other day.

The statistics are unsettling. An Associated Press report reveals that 1 of 4 women say they’ve been victims of domestic abuse at some point in their lives.

The numbers sound high – to everyone except those who work with the victims.

The stats also include a number of men and children.

In Pennsylvania, domestic violence victims included 60 adult females, 45 adult males and 13 children and teens. The youngest victim was just 1; the oldest 90 years of age.

Of the perpetrators, 38 committed suicide and 10 were killed by police or others. The youngest was 16; the oldest 92.

Of the domestic violence deaths, 66% were by gun. One was shot and set on fire, one was shot and bludgeoned with a hammer, and one was shot and stabbed.

Another 33 individuals were stabbed, 4 were strangled, and 3 were beaten. Three were bludgeoned with a baseball bat, 1 was strangled and their throat slashed, 1 was stabbed and their throat slashed, 1 suffered blunt head trauma, 1 died of carbon monoxide poisoning, 1 was strangled then suffered blunt head force trauma and cardio arrest, 1 was run over by a car and 1 was shot with an arrow from a crossbow.

Four victims and one perpetrator were pregnant at the time, 2 fatalities occurred on Valentine’s Day, 1 on Thanksgiving and 1 on Christmas. One victim was a police officer, 2 perpetrators were police officers. Thirteen victims were 65 or older, including 6 who were 80 or older. There were 4 incidents involving teen dating violence and of the youngest victims, 3 were killed by their mothers, 5 by their father’s, 2 by their mother’s boyfriend. Another was killed by a male teen who had a crush on his victim, 1 was killed by an ex-boyfriend, and 1 was caught in crossfire between two brothers.
As you can see, domestic violence touches all ages and occurs in what we consider the safest of abodes.

In Pennsylvania, there were 124 reported incidents in 2011, 27 murder/suicides, and 36 counties with fatalities. June was the highest month for fatalities and Saturday was the most common day.
Philadelphia had the highest victim count at 27; York County had 4.

To learn more or to read the full report, click here

Friday, October 5, 2012

Quick Links - Good Reads

Weekly Round Up – Things We Thought Were Interesting

Time is precious and a hot commodity. So, some of our blogs will be very short and sweet – quick links to things we found interesting that we thought you might, too. The topics change week to week. We got this nifty idea from one of our favorite bloggers. So feel free to read, browse and share. Good stuff!

PR/Professional News
Painting a Picture with Stories – You have to read it to see the beauty
2012 PR Daily Awards – The best of…….

Just Interesting
12 Communication Basics Everyone Should Know
Overqualified? – How to turn it into a positive
10 Reasons Why Using Twitter Will Boost Your Happiness

Caught Looking Good
The new Confidence to Greatness Website – empowering teens with real-life stories
96-year-old woman to run half marathon
Mary Kay donates $3 million to help women’s shelters in all 50 states
A Cake You Have to See to Believe – Rock On!

 

Mary Kay Donates $3 Million to Women's Shelters in All 50 States

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

 

Last week, Milestones Communications launched a regular ongoing Q&A that spotlights what shelters and other organizations around the country are doing to help victims throughout the U.S. 

We spoke with:

The York County YWCA (PA)
Hope's Door (TX)
Women of Means Escape Network (CA)
PA Coalition Agaisnt Domestic Violence

We also came across news that we're excited to share with our readers:

The Mary Kay Foundation Donates $3 Million to 150 Domestic Violence Shelters in All 50 States

Do you have news to share?

Feel free to forward to gwen@milestonespr.com.

We'll be happy to share news with readers. You never know who might be helped.

In the meantime, thanks to all those helping to raise awareness of this vital issue and providing much-needed resources to women, victims, and families in need.




Thursday, October 4, 2012

Elaborate "Rocker" Cake Takes 120 Hours to Custom Design

A Cake for Kings
Custom crafted design features local rockers Kingsfoil onstage and “live”



YORK, PA. -- Maybe you can have your cake – and eat it, too. For local rockers Kingsfoil, what could be sweeter than a new album launch party on the heels of a VH1 interview? Well, how about an incredible custom cake to commemorate the occasion? 

Kingsfoil

The indie rock band – featuring Jordan Davis, Tristan Martin, Tim Warren and Malcolm in the Middle’s celebrity star Frankie Muniz - is based out of York County, PA. Their new album, A Beating Heart is a Bleeding Heart, was officially released on Sept. 25.  A local launch party was held at the Chameleon Club in Lancaster on Saturday, Sept. 29.

Hundreds of fans attended to see Kingsfoil perform their latest hits. After the show, fans were served with pieces of chocolate and vanilla cake draped in a sugary creation that tasted great and looked out-of-this-world.
 

Christy Marie's

The cake, a custom creation handcrafted courtesy of Christy Marie’s in Shrewsbury, PA took more than 120 hours total to create and consumed more than 50 pounds of fondant, a special icing used to decoratively cover cakes and create more intricate designs.


Topped with lifelike figurines of the four rockers - as well as their instruments, their set and stage lights lit, yes lit, around the perimeter of the concert stage. Each piece is modeled after photos that show the musicians in their everyday and promo attire and/or performing. Jordan wears a denim shirt from one of the band’s promo photos and Frankie is sporting red tennis shoes; the drum cymbals spotlight a dusty bronze cast and no stage would be complete without multiple microphones bent at varying angles.

The various pieces are made of a multiple of mediums – fondant, gumpaste, modeling chocolate and rice crispy treats. The album cover rotated on top while a midnight blue-black-silver color scheme inspired by the album permeated top to bottom.

Christy Marie Parrish started the intensive project after seeing a concert in May and designed each component, piece by piece.  Molds are used to create the bodies, which are then clothed with shirts, jeans and shoes. Hair, eyes and facial features are distinctly different and unique to each performer.
 
 

Photos by Sarah Bothwell at Blue Couch Studios
“I’m really big into detail,” says Christy. She painstakingly analyzes photos, uploads them to a computer, color matches the fondant, and sculpts designs down to the piano keys, guitar strings, and set d├ęcor. A set list with song titles lies sideways on the floor, instruments show their brand names, and a miniature carrier case wears their trademark tree design.

These big projects are always a family affair at Christy Marie’s. Christy’s sister-in-law, Tiffany, enjoys baking and loved the challenge of making this large cake and especially supporting a local band.
Christy Marie’s is a local business in south central Pa. that sells cake and candy supplies, everything you need to create your own custom sweets and treats. Christy's parents were owners of The Cake & Wedding Cottage in Baltimore, Md., which recently celebrated its 35th anniversary. Christy Marie’s opened in 2009.

If you’re inspired, you can learn how to create your own custom designs. For a full listing of current and upcoming classes, you can visit www.christymaries.com or call 717-235-6555.

Go to the Christy Marie’s Facebook Page
Follow on Twitter @ChristyMaries

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Small Business Celebrates Big Day

True Value Plus 50th Anniversary Celebration on Saturday, Oct. 6;
Proceeds Benefit Fire Departments


True Value Plus will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a customer appreciation event on Saturday, Oct. 6, at its stores at 836 E. Forrest Avenue, Shrewsbury and 231 N. Main Street, Loganville. Festivities will include a bounce house for the kids, free hot dogs and Carman’s ice cream from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., as well as a cake cutting at noon and door prizes throughout the day at both locations. Customers also will enjoy many items 50% off in honor of True Values 50 years of business - and 5% of all sales will be donated to the Shrewsbury and Loganville Volunteer Fire Departments, which will have fire engines on site and on display.                                                                          
True Value Plus has long been a family-owned business that’s worked hard, changed with the times and given back to the community. The Shrewsbury home improvement center, which now features 36,000 square feet of retail space, was first owned and operated by Bob Hittie and his wife Jean. Their two sons, Scott and Brad both grew up in the store and today co-own and co-manage the day-to-day operations.
“Over the years,” says Scott Hittie, “we have carefully aligned our product selection to meet the needs of the community and deliver on the expectations of local customers. We are committed to our customers and to providing them with the best shopping experience possible. As an independent retailer, we've created a one-stop destination where shoppers can find all the great products, expert advice, and inspiration they need to get their small repair and home-improvement projects done right.”

With any business in existence for half a century, there is interesting trivia. Did you know:

·         Bob and Jean Hittie bought New Freedom Hardware in 1962
·         The store initially looked more like a gift store than a hardware store
·         The Hittie children grew up on site – first napping and playing in, then working after school til close, and later running the store
·         The owners started out doing odds and ends job to make ends meet – rototilling gardens, repairing windows and screens, delivering items
·         Today, True Value Plus makes 12,000 keys annually, mixed 11,000 gallons of paint, filled more than 11,000 propane tanks, sold more than 12,000 2x4’s and is one of the largest Stihl dealers in the region
·         The Shrewsbury store has undergone several expansions in just the last 10 years – in 2002, with a drive through lumber warehouse, in 2005, converting warehouse storage into a retail sales area three times it’s original, and in 2009, both stores were remodeled, that made them brighter, more organized and easier to shop.  

Stop by Saturday, Oct. 6 to celebrate with True Value Plus – and to help a good cause.



“This all started with our father,” says Hittie. “When he started out in business, he realized that he needed to be involved in the community. And, he has done this in a big way over the years. In the 70's, Bob thought that New Freedom needed a Community Center, and he was a big part in making that happen. The same thing when the YMCA came to town. Bob became highly involved in the planning process and he made a large financial commitment. True Value has always tried to fully support as many local organizations as possible. This includes the local libraries, fire departments, school organizations- sports teams, bands, yearbook, etc., countless local Church groups, local youth sports teams, and many Scouting organizations.
 
Scott and Brad are both Eagle Scouts and enjoy helping many young men with their Eagle projects. Bob has been very involved with the New Freedom Lions Club and has worked many, many hours at their annual carnival over the years. And Jean was the unsung hero. She was always right there to keep him organized, fed, and supported. She worked many hours at the New Freedom store, raised two sons and was an active volunteer. Scott and Brad continue to model themselves after their parents, but the bar has been set high.
 
“Dad continues to work some hours almost every day, even at the age of 81,” says Brad Hittie. “Our parents are highly respected in the community and they have earned it. They love this community. And the community has allowed us to reach this 50-year anniversary. They’ve supported us, just as we’ve tried our best to support them.”

So, come on out and join the fun as a local business celebrates half a century!

WGTY Radio plans a live broadcast noon-2 at the Shrewsbury store with Dan Douglas and there will be a Kidde Fire Safety Event from 10-2.

Visit the True Value website
Find their Facebook page
Follow on Twitter

Are you celebrating a milestone? Let us know. You can email me at gwen@milestonespr.com.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Domestic Abuse Awareness - Pa Coalition Against Domestic Violence


Stand Up and Speak Out

Milestones Communications is a small PR firm that works with groups large and small, corporate and non-profit. We also are active in community service, volunteerism and working pro bono for causes near and dear.
This year, we wanted to commit to helping raise awareness about domestic abuse. Why this cause and why now? Because we believe our homes should be a place of safety, love, respect and admiration – for all.   

Putting an End to Domestic Abuse

We were moved to action after seeing an Associated Press report that indicated 1 in 4 women had suffered at the hands of someone they loved and trusted, someone they’d lived with or had been in a relationship with. The number was startling to most – to all except those who work with the victims. And they, across the board, knew the numbers were higher than most of us imagined. The acts of violence included murders, beatings, rapes and stalking along with strikes and blows, pushes, shoves and threats thereof. We realized then that the number of women, children and men who also experienced domestic abuse of all sorts had to, likewise, be beyond our comprehension.
Consider this:
  • On average more than three women a day are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends in the United States
  • Nearly one in four women in the U.S. reports experiencing violence by a current or former spouse or boyfriend at some point in her life
  • 20% to 25% of women in college reported experiencing an attempted or completed rape in college
  • Women who have experienced DV are 80% more likely to have a stroke, 70% more likely to have heart disease, 60% more likely to have asthma and 70% more likely to drink heavily than women who have not
As we gave thought to the unsettling statistics, we realized that we personally knew of those affected. Perhaps not our BFF revealing blow-by-blow accounts of the latest cut, bruise or blow, but a relative who has changed over time, a friend who doesn’t have the same zest for life, a colleague who’s more withdrawn, a church member who’s nice but distant. Chances are you know someone who’s having a tough time at home. Their lives may be in jeopardy, they may live in fear, walk on eggshells. Maybe not violent pushing and shoving - perhaps their reality is more subtle and socially acceptable  - but a string of stress-producing incidents, nonetheless, that keep one on edge and in constant fear that wears one out over time.

Do you know someone who’s the victim of domestic abuse?

If not, we’d wager it’s only because they aren’t talking. And that’s precisely why domestic abuse has the power to make so many feel so powerless. Because those abused live in fear – of saying something that will set the abuser off, doing something that will set off a series of attacks, looking or responding in a way that “invites” whatever it is that follows. Too often, the abuser puts on a happy face for the rest of the world but those closest to them encounter a snarling face who somehow believes that they can make themselves feel better by making others feel worse.
As we took to heart the sobering statistics, we came to the conclusion that none of us should accept or minimize abuse in any form. Those who are abused don’t speak up and don’t seek help because they feel they can’t. The first step in understanding their pain - be it physical, mental or emotional - is learning more about it. From there, we can lend our compassion, our care and concern, critical resources and most of all, intolerance for the inexcusable, the unacceptable and the unfathomable. Knowing what to look for will make it more difficult for those committing abuse to continue on unnoticed, unaccountable, or unconcerned.

And let’s not make the mistake of thinking that it’s just women. These stats include teens, youths and men.
Our goal is to share more in the months ahead, spotlighting the organizations that work to raise awareness about domestic abuse as well as speak with those most affected.
We started with the York YWCA in York, PA; we talked with Hope's Door in Collins County, TX and the Women of Means Escape Network in Los Altos, CA. Today, we talk with the Pennsylavania Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Tell us more about your organization.  

The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence is the nation’s oldest statewide domestic violence organization. We were founded in 1976 and over the years built a network of 60 community-based programs serving victims and their children in all 67 Pennsylvania counties.  Among the free and confidential services these programs have offered are safe shelter, counseling, legal advocacy, support groups and children’s programs to more than 2.5 million individuals.

What drew you to the field? How did you become involved?
Many, but not all, of our founders and advocates were once victims themselves. We are drawn to this work because of concern for a group of victims that often doesn’t elicit much public sympathy. It’s still common for people to blame victims of domestic violence for not leaving, when we know from statistics and anecdotal experience that victims are most in danger when they end or leave the abusive relationship.

Why do abusers abuse?
There are many reasons for abuse including having grown up in a home where family violence was the norm.  Abusers come from all educational, income, racial, ethnic and religious groups. For most of them the violence is a means of maintaining power and control over their victim.

Is it the victim’s fault?
Violence and abuse are never the victim’s fault. They are solely the fault of the one committing the violence and abuse. No one deserves to be abused.

Are there victims who’ve broken the cycle and what made the difference?

Executive Director Peg Dierkers
Many victims have broken the cycle of violence. Sometimes it takes many tries to successfully end an abusive relationship. Victims who reach out for the assistance of experienced and knowledgeable advocates are able to find the financial, emotional, educational and employment help they need to break away and stay away.

How can they find help safely?
They can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 for a referral to their nearest local domestic violence services program. An advocate there can help them develop a safety plan.

What are common myths and misconceptions about victims?
Some common myths and misconceptions about victims include that they could stop or leave the violence if they really wanted to, that the violence is somehow their fault and that they only come from lower socio-economic classes.

What are the signs of physical abuse?  
Some signs of physical abuse include bruises (or long sleeves on warm days to conceal bruises), black eyes, cuts, marks on the skin, broken bones and dizziness, unconsciousness and memory loss when there is head trauma.

What are the signs of non-violent abuse?
 Someone may become more quiet than usual, withdrawn, isolated from friends and family, worried about appeasing and keeping happy their partner and generally more fearful.

What can friends and family do to help?
Ask the person if something is wrong, if they need to talk about something or need some help. Offer them the National Domestic Violence Hotline number. Offer to watch their children while they go to an appointment with an advocate, or take in their pet(s) while they are in shelter. Let them know you care, you won’t be judgmental, and you are there for them.

What can the public do to help?
Local domestic violence shelters operate on a shoestring budget. The last few years they have seen their state and federal funding cut while demand for their services has increased. Consider donating money or calling to ask what donated goods they need. Encourage your local school to include prevention of teen dating violence in their curriculum.  Encourage your workplace and church to invite speakers and put up posters with the hotline number on bulletin boards and in restrooms.

Tell us more about the greatest success story you’ve seen.
We adhere to strict confidentiality when it comes to victims and their stories. However, we can say that we’ve seen many abused women flee to a shelter with their children in the middle of the night with nothing but the clothing on their backs. Within a short time they are in counseling, the woman is furthering her education or brushing up on her employment skills, and soon she has a job and has moved the children into a safe new home.

How can we help your organization?
Continue raising awareness about domestic violence and the free and confidential services available to victims.

What books, movies, or songs realistically illustrate domestic abuse?
The Burning Bed.

Is there a local organization you know that’s doing great things in the community to help victims of domestic abuse? Drop us a line. We’d love to support their cause.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Domestic Abuse Awareness - Kudos to Women of Means Escape Network

Stand Up and Speak Out

Milestones Communications is a small PR firm that works with groups large and small, corporate and non-profit. We also are active in community service, volunteerism and working pro bono for causes near and dear.
 
This year, we wanted to commit to helping raise awareness about domestic abuse. Why this cause and why now? Because we believe our homes should be a place of safety, love, respect and admiration – for all.  

Putting an End to Domestic Abuse

We were moved to action after seeing an Associated Press report that indicated 1 in 4 women had suffered at the hands of someone they loved and trusted, someone they’d lived with or had been in a relationship with. The number was startling to most – to all except those who work with the victims. And they, across the board, knew the numbers were higher than most of us imagined. The acts of violence included murders, beatings, rapes and stalking along with strikes and blows, pushes, shoves and threats thereof. We realized then that the number of women, children and men who also experienced domestic abuse of all sorts had to, likewise, be beyond our comprehension.
Consider this:
  • On average more than three women a day are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends in the United States
  • Nearly one in four women in the U.S. reports experiencing violence by a current or former spouse or boyfriend at some point in her life
  • 20% to 25% of women in college reported experiencing an attempted or completed rape in college
  • Women who have experienced DV are 80% more likely to have a stroke, 70% more likely to have heart disease, 60% more likely to have asthma and 70% more likely to drink heavily than women who have not
As we gave thought to the unsettling statistics, we realized that we personally knew of those affected. Perhaps not our BFF revealing blow-by-blow accounts of the latest cut, bruise or blow, but a relative who has changed over time, a friend who doesn’t have the same zest for life, a colleague who’s more withdrawn, a church member who’s nice but distant. Chances are you know someone who’s having a tough time at home. Their lives may be in jeopardy, they may live in fear, walk on eggshells. Maybe not violent pushing and shoving - perhaps their reality is more subtle and socially acceptable  - but a string of stress-producing incidents, nonetheless, that keep one on edge and in constant fear that wears one out over time.

Do you know someone who’s the victim of domestic abuse?
If not, we’d wager it’s only because they aren’t talking. And that’s precisely why domestic abuse has the power to make so many feel so powerless. Because those abused live in fear – of saying something that will set the abuser off, doing something that will set off a series of attacks, looking or responding in a way that “invites” whatever it is that follows. Too often, the abuser puts on a happy face for the rest of the world but those closest to them encounter a snarling face who somehow believes that they can make themselves feel better by making others feel worse.

As we took to heart the sobering statistics, we came to the conclusion that none of us should accept or minimize abuse in any form. Those who are abused don’t speak up and don’t seek help because they feel they can’t. The first step in understanding their pain - be it physical, mental or emotional - is learning more about it. From there, we can lend our compassion, our care and concern, critical resources and most of all, intolerance for the inexcusable, the unacceptable and the unfathomable. Knowing what to look for will make it more difficult for those committing abuse to continue on unnoticed, unaccountable, or unconcerned.
And let’s not make the mistake of thinking that it’s just women. These stats include teens, youths and men.

Our goal is to share more in the months ahead, spotlighting the organizations that work to raise awareness about domestic abuse as well as speak with those most affected.
We started with the York YWCA in York, PA., talked yesterday with Hope's Door in Collins County, TX and today spend time with Ruth Patrick, who founded the Women-of-Means Escape Network in Los Altos, CA.

Tell us more about your organization.
WOMEN~SV or Women-of-Means Escape Network is designed to raise awareness about domestic violence as it affects women in middle to upper income areas  and to offer information and resources to help them deal with domestic violence more safely and effectively.
The uusual impression of a "wife beater" is an impoverished drunken man living in trailer.  However, the statistics bear out the fact that there is a high level of domestic violence against more affluent, highly educated women.  Many more affluent women, including many women in the tonier neighborhoods of Silicon Valley, are subjected to domestic violence.  There is odften financial abuse and emotional abuse, a pattern of coercive control, and the cycle of violence usually continues into a downward spiral until there is a serious, often life-threatening event. It's all about power and control. 
In 2011, the deaths from domestic violence rose three-fold from 5 the year before to 16 in Santa Clara County. The Women-of-Means Escape Network is new, supported by the Community Foundation, the Los Altos police chief, Tuck Younis, and local politicians, Joe Simitian, and Anna Eshoo. 
What drew you to the field? How did you become involved?
I had a couple of close friends who gradually opened up to me about the domestic violence they were experiencing—professional women in nice homes in nice neighborhoods. They had a hard time getting services because the general perception was that domestic violence doesn’t happen in nicer neighborhoods. At the time I was working on a project at a local teaching hospital, interviewing doctors and therapists to create a curriculum for young women with eating disorders, then went out into the school districts and taught it. I found some of the children distracted in class, sometimes even being diagnosed with ADD/ADHD when they were really just focused on the trauma and chaos that was happening in the home. I decided to find out more about domestic violence and this apparent lack of help for women in middle to upper income areas. I interviewed over 30 providers in the field of domestic violence and they all confirmed the gap in services for women in this population. Children are the hidden victims of abuse and I was determined to do what I could to address the source of the suffering.

Why do abusers abuse?
Abuse is a learned behavior, a choice. It is not an anger issue, a result of stress, drugs, or the economic situation. If an abuser is beating his partner (“his” because 85-95% of DV victims are female) and someone comes to the door, he is very capable of turning off the abusive behavior instantly and slipping back into that public/social image that is so at odds with his behavior behind closed doors. And the abuser gets plenty of reinforcement for his behavior—he gets to dominate the home, avoid domestic chores and responsibilities, show up only when he feels like it, and be treated like a king, a master with no repercussions for his behavior. For an abuser, it often really is “all about them”.

Is it the victim’s fault?
Abuse is NEVER the victim’s fault. The abuser will generally blame the victim and through this blame and constant criticism can often end up making her believe it is all her fault: if she weren’t so “lazy/sloppy/late/stupid”, etc. he wouldn’t have to act this way. But the truth is he DOESN’T ever have to act that way. There is always a choice—HIS choice—to act with compassion or contempt, gentleness or cruelty, shared power or domination and control.

Are there victims who’ve broken the cycle and what made the difference?

Yes there are victims who succeed in breaking the cycle. It helps tremendously to have a trusted friend to confide in, someone to give them that first inkling that this isn’t how things are supposed to be. Personal counseling can help (not marriage counseling which typically only makes the abuse worse). Therapy can help strengthen her self-esteem, process what’s being done to her, and help her realize that she doesn’t deserve the abuse and there is a way out. Putting money aside secretly and becoming financially independent can also give her the means, strength, and courage to leave. And considering the effect the abuse is having on her children—everything from headaches, stomachaches, and a drop in school performance to getting into drugs as a way of self-medicating, and bullying or victim behavior. 1 in 3 children who witness abuse in the homes will grow up to become victims or abusers themselves. Rather than “staying for the sake of the children”, it is often healthier and safer to leave for the sake of the children.
How can they find help safely?
Getting a disposable phone can help (as long as she can keep it hidden), as well as contacting a lawyer who has experience representing abused women. Lawyers can graduate from law school with no training in domestic violence, so it’s important to find those with experience. It’s vital that she not tell her abuser if she is thinking of leaving him—he will see that as a loss of control and will go to great lengths to re-assert that control often putting her physical safety in jeopardy. But experienced counselors and lawyers can help her create a safety plan to deal effectively with these risks.

What are common myths and misconceptions about victims?
They must come from dysfunctional families.
They must enjoy it—otherwise they would just leave.
They can’t be very smart or well-educated or have successful careers.
They don’t live in middle to upper income areas.
They don’t really want to leave.
They are at least partly to blame.

What are the signs of physical abuse?
A woman who is “accident prone”, reticent about physical contact, unexplained bruising/injuries.

What are the signs of non-violent abuse?

More useful terms might be “emotional, verbal, psychological, spiritual, financial” forms of abuse—the scars from this kind of abuse can last a lifetime and it does violence to a person’s spirit, crushing it slowly but inevitably over time. Victims of abuse are exposed to the same types of coercive control and torture that are used on prisoners of war and the effects on them are very similar.They become hesitant, startle easily, show signs of  PTSD; their self-esteem plummets; they develop depression, anxiety, physical health issues, possibly drug or alcohol addiction as a way of self-medicating; they withdraw from friends and family (one of the abuser’s tactics is often to isolate the victim); they lose their “joie de vivre”; and friends and family begin to comment that they are “not the same person”, there has been a deterioration in almost every area of their life. Their work may be affected as well—it’s difficult to concentrate when they are distracted by the stress and trauma of a chaotic home life.

What can friends and family do to help?
Tell her she is NOT alone, she does NOT deserve the abuse and there are people who can help. Be there to listen, support, and offer suggestions—but don’t ever judge her or tell her to “just leave”.

What can the public do to help?
Donate to domestic violence organizations—they are under-funded and over-burdened often having to turn clients away. Support domestic violence education programs in schools, workplaces, and in the community.

Tell us more about the greatest success story you’ve seen.
A woman who was severely abused emotionally and physically by her partner of 20 years, freed herself from the abuse, and went on to become a highly successful business woman. She is in a new relationship now with a loving, compassionate man. It can happen!

What propelled this woman to leave was realizing the damage it was doing to her son-- he had become depressed to the point of being suicidal, had gone from being a straight A student to failing every class. She realized that it wasn't helping to keep the family intact. The family was already broken, and the healthiest, safest thing she could do for her son was to leave and take him with her. In terms of leaving her abuser, she couldn't do it for herself, but she could do it for her son--in fact she realized she had to do it for her son. She talked to a trusted friend who encouraged her, found another friend who had left an abusive relationship and gone on to a happier life. She contacted a counselor and began therapy which helped her realize the abuse wasn't her fault and she deserved better treatment. She learned to re-define what love means--mutual respect, compassion. forgiveness for mistakes, shared reality, shared power--none of which were true of her current relationship. 

She began to call attorneys from her work phone so her husband wouldn't find out. She visited them on her lunch hour. She wrote checks at the grocery store that were for over the bill amount and got cash back which she put away in an account at a different bank with her own name on it. She got a credit card in her own name to start building her own credit history. And on her lunch breaks she started looking at apartments. She got a disposable phone and kept it hidden, making her calls (to apartment managers, attorneys, moving companies) that wouldn't appear on their phone bill. She did it one step, one appointment, one phone call at a time so she wouldn't get overwhelmed. 

Then, when her husband left on a weekend business trip, she "lit out". She also got a restraining order to protect herself both physically and emotionally--knowing that he would try to manipulate her into returning (knowing that the average number of times a woman leaves an abuser before leaving permanently is anywhere from 7 to 12--and each times she returns, the abuse gets worse). 

Now her son is back to getting straight 'A's' and is applying to college. She found healthy adult male role models for him and he did some personal therapeutic work of his own, since they both suffered from PTSD, anxiety, and depression as a result of the abuse. But they have both gone beyond recovery and are now thriving, leading healthy, productive lives.

How can we help your organization?
Please visit our website: www.losaltoscfo.org/womensv and consider donating. Large or small, every contribution helps. We need money for disposable phones, personal supplies (for women who have fled), hard copies of our directory (which is on the website as well), brochures, flyers, domestic violence books for our lending library, etc.

LACF (Los Altos Community Foundation) is our fiscal sponsor and is a 501 (c) 3 so every donation is tax deductible (if it’s a check, just write “WOMEN~SV) in the memo line. Thank you!

Address:
WOMEN~SV
c/o LACF
183 Hillview Ave.
Los Altos, CA 94022

What books, movies, or songs realistically illustrate domestic abuse?
Books: Lundy Bancroft’s “Why Does He Do That?” and “When Dad Hurts Mom”
Movies: The Burning Bed, Sleeping With the Enemy, This Boy’s Life

Is there a local organization you know that’s doing great things in the community to help victims of domestic abuse? Drop us a line. We’d love to support their cause.

 


 


 

Ruth pointed out that our usual impression of a "wife beater" is an impoverished drunken man living in trailer.  However, the statistics bear out the fact that there is a high level of domestic violence against more affluent, highly educated women.  Ruth is developing the Women of Means Escape Network (WOMEN).  Many more affluent women, including many women in the tonier neighborhoods of Silicon Valley, are subjected to domestic violence.  Ruth also pointed out other problems such as financial abuse, and emotional abuse.  Ruth spoke about the pattern of coercive control, and "death by 1000 cuts."  The cycle of violence usually continues into a downward spiral until there is a serious, often life-threatening event.  Ruth stated that it's all about power and control.
 
She pointed out that in 2011 the deaths from domestic violence had risen to 16 from only 5 the year before in Santa Clara County.
 
Ruth is just getting her project off the ground, and is being supported by the Community Foundation.  The program is also supported by the Los Altos police chief, Tuck Younis, and local politicians, Joe Simitian, and Anna Eshoo.  Ruth encouraged all of the members of Rotary to contact her for further information and to let her know if they can provide support.
 


 

What drew you to the field? How did you become involved?

I had a couple of close friends who gradually opened up to me about the domestic violence they were experiencing—professional women in nice homes in nice neighborhoods. They had a hard time getting services because the general perception was that domestic violence doesn’t happen in nicer neighborhoods. At the time I was working on a project at a local teaching hospital, interviewing doctors and therapists to create a curriculum for young women with eating disorders, then went out into the school districts and taught it. I found some of the children distracted in class, sometimes even being diagnosed with ADD/ADHD when they were really just focused on the trauma and chaos that was happening in the home. I decided to find out more about domestic violence and this apparent lack of help for women in middle to upper income areas. I interviewed over 30 providers in the field of domestic violence and they all confirmed the gap in services for women in this population. Children are the hidden victims of abuse and I was determined to do what I could to address the source of the suffering.

 

Why do abusers abuse?

Abuse is a learned behavior, a choice. It is not an anger issue, a result of stress, drugs, or the economic situation. If an abuser is beating his partner (“his” because 85-95% of DV victims are female) and someone comes to the door, he is very capable of turning off the abusive behavior instantly and slipping back into that public/social image that is so at odds with his behavior behind closed doors. And the abuser gets plenty of reinforcement for his behavior—he gets to dominate the home, avoid domestic chores and responsibilities, show up only when he feels like it, and be treated like a king, a master with no repercussions for his behavior. For an abuser, it often really is “all about them”.

 

Is it the victim’s fault?

Abuse is NEVER the victim’s fault. The abuser will generally blame the victim and through this blame and constant criticism can often end up making her believe it is all her fault: if she weren’t so “lazy/sloppy/late/stupid”, etc. he wouldn’t have to act this way. But the truth is he DOESN’T ever have to act that way. There is always a choice—HIS choice—to act with compassion or contempt, gentleness or cruelty, shared power or domination and control.

 

Are there victims who’ve broken the cycle and what made the difference?

Yes there are victims who succeed in breaking the cycle. It helps tremendously to have a trusted friend to confide in, someone to give them that first inkling that this isn’t how things are supposed to be. Personal counseling can help (not marriage counseling which typically only makes the abuse worse). Therapy can help strengthen her self-esteem, process what’s being done to her, and help her realize that she doesn’t deserve the abuse and there is a way out. Putting money aside secretly and becoming financially independent can also give her the means, strength, and courage to leave. And considering the effect the abuse is having on her children—everything from headaches, stomachaches, and a drop in school performance to getting into drugs as a way of self-medicating, and bullying or victim behavior. 1 in 3 children who witness abuse in the homes will grow up to become victims or abusers themselves. Rather than “staying for the sake of the children”, it is often healthier and safer to leave for the sake of the children.

How can they find help safely?
Getting a disposable phone can help (as long as she can keep it hidden), as well as contacting a lawyer who has experience representing abused women. Lawyers can graduate from law school with no training in domestic violence, so it’s important to find those with experience. It’s vital that she not tell her abuser if she is thinking of leaving him—he will see that as a loss of control and will go to great lengths to re-assert that control often putting her physical safety in jeopardy. But experienced counselors and lawyers can help her create a safety plan to deal effectively with these risks.

What are common myths and misconceptions about victims?
They must come from dysfunctional families.
They must enjoy it—otherwise they would just leave.
They can’t be very smart or well-educated or have successful careers.
They don’t live in middle to upper income areas.
They don’t really want to leave.
They are at least partly to blame.

What are the signs of physical abuse?
A woman who is “accident prone”, reticent about physical contact, unexplained bruising/injuries.

What are the signs of non-violent abuse?
More useful terms might be “emotional, verbal, psychological, spiritual, financial” forms of abuse—the scars from this kind of abuse can last a lifetime and it does violence to a person’s spirit, crushing it slowly but inevitably over time. Victims of abuse are exposed to the same types of coercive control and torture that are used on prisoners of war and the effects on them are very similar.They become hesitant, startle easily, show signs of  PTSD; their self-esteem plummets; they develop depression, anxiety, physical health issues, possibly drug or alcohol addiction as a way of self-medicating; they withdraw from friends and family (one of the abuser’s tactics is often to isolate the victim); they lose their “joie de vivre”; and friends and family begin to comment that they are “not the same person”, there has been a deterioration in almost every area of their life. Their work may be affected as well—it’s difficult to concentrate when they are distracted by the stress and trauma of a chaotic home life.

What can friends and family do to help?
Tell her she is NOT alone, she does NOT deserve the abuse and there are people who can help. Be there to listen, support, and offer suggestions—but don’t ever judge her or tell her to “just leave”.

What can the public do to help?
Donate to domestic violence organizations—they are under-funded and over-burdened often having to turn clients away. Support domestic violence education programs in schools, workplaces, and in the community.

Tell us more about the greatest success story you’ve seen.
A woman who was severely abused emotionally and physically by her partner of 20 years, freed herself from the abuse, and went on to become a highly successful business woman. She is in a new relationship now with a loving, compassionate man. It can happen!

What propelled this woman to leave was realizing the damage it was doing to her son-- he had become depressed to the point of being suicidal, had gone from being a straight A student to failing every class. She realized that it wasn't helping to keep the family intact. The family was already broken, and the healthiest, safest thing she could do for her son was to leave and take him with her. In terms of leaving her abuser, she couldn't do it for herself, but she could do it for her son--in fact she realized she had to do it for her son. She talked to a trusted friend who encouraged her, found another friend who had left an abusive relationship and gone on to a happier life. She contacted a counselor and began therapy which helped her realize the abuse wasn't her fault and she deserved better treatment. She learned to re-define what love means--mutual respect, compassion. forgiveness for mistakes, shared reality, shared power--none of which were true of her current relationship. 

She began to call attorneys from her work phone so her husband wouldn't find out. She visited them on her lunch hour. She wrote checks at the grocery store that were for over the bill amount and got cash back which she put away in an account at a different bank with her own name on it. She got a credit card in her own name to start building her own credit history. And on her lunch breaks she started looking at apartments. She got a disposable phone and kept it hidden, making her calls (to apartment managers, attorneys, moving companies) that wouldn't appear on their phone bill. She did it one step, one appointment, one phone call at a time so she wouldn't get overwhelmed. 

Then, when her husband left on a weekend business trip, she "lit out". She also got a restraining order to protect herself both physically and emotionally--knowing that he would try to manipulate her into returning (knowing that the average number of times a woman leaves an abuser before leaving permanently is anywhere from 7 to 12--and each times she returns, the abuse gets worse). 

Now her son is back to getting straight 'A's' and is applying to college. She found healthy adult male role models for him and he did some personal therapeutic work of his own, since they both suffered from PTSD, anxiety, and depression as a result of the abuse. But they have both gone beyond recovery and are now thriving, leading healthy, productive lives.

How can we help your organization?
Please visit our website: www.losaltoscfo.org/womensv and consider donating. Large or small, every contribution helps. We need money for disposable phones, personal supplies (for women who have fled), hard copies of our directory (which is on the website as well), brochures, flyers, domestic violence books for our lending library, etc.

LACF (Los Altos Community Foundation) is our fiscal sponsor and is a 501 (c) 3 so every donation is tax deductible (if it’s a check, just write “WOMEN~SV) in the memo line. Thank you!

Address:
WOMEN~SV
c/o LACF
183 Hillview Ave.
Los Altos, CA 94022

What books, movies, or songs realistically illustrate domestic abuse?
Books: Lundy Bancroft’s “Why Does He Do That?” and “When Dad Hurts Mom”
Movies: The Burning Bed, Sleeping With the Enemy, This Boy’s Life

Is there a local organization you know that’s doing great things in the community to help victims of domestic abuse? Drop us a line. We’d love to support their cause.