According to Families To Freedom Founder and Executive Director Sarah Nejdl,
It’s late. There’s a dim evening glow as I drive across east Arizona. The reflectors on the street are brightly lit up guiding me forward. I have a watered down drink in the cup holder keeping me going until Winslow, Arizona, our overnight stop. The van is very quiet and my passengers are sleeping except one kiddo on the third row whose sweet face is lit up in blue light playing a game on an iPad. The mom, my client, survived a long abusive relationship with a new husband. She shows no signs of the physical abuse because the body heals faster than the mind. Like a scientist, she experimented over the years to see what worked and what didn’t. Rational discussions and using logic to explain her perspective didn’t work because he is not a logical, rational man. He was violent, disrespectful and damaging. After planning and mental calculations of when and how to go, she finally made her escape to an area shelter, and our part is to help her disappear for good. She and her children are comfortable. They’re going directly to the home of family in California, arriving with dignity and everything we could cram into the trunk. The kids will keep the blankets and toys we provided. Mom will keep the baby’s car seat that we provided.
What I love most is that not only did I help a mom and her four children leave a domestic violence shelter to get to family, this drive opened up five beds in that shelter for the next hotline callers. By helping her go, ten people benefit from the service that Families to Freedom provides. Rides to emergency shelter are our most requested service from victims who need help. We also provide Greyhound bus tickets and fuel assistance for those with their own vehicle. And this is all done by amazing volunteers across the Metroplex!
Since we launched services in late 2015, we’ve now helped over 1,400 victims and children get to new safe places. This year so far we’ve driven to emergency shelter across North Texas 86 times, family homes in other states 24 times, issued 44 Greyhound bus tickets and handed out 26 fuel cards for survivors to drive far away. Often we drive a client to shelter to get counseling and immediate shelter, then help again getting to family far away, such as with this mom going to California. We have one van in our fleet that gets used a lot, especially when we’re traveling with pets or need to roll out on short notice.
We’re eager for North Texas Giving Day this year hopeful to raise the critical funds for more rides to shelter, more rides to family, and more rides for domestic violence survivors to feel finally free. Learn more about Families to Freedom and all that we’re doing for women and children in your community at Families to Freedom.org If you need help, or know someone who does, call our Help Line at 972-885-7020 for a discussion.
* Graphic/photo provided by Families To Freedom
In ten years, Communities Foundation of Texas’ North Texas Giving Day has pumped more than $240 million into the North Texas community. In 2018, more than $48 million was raised through more than 157,000 gifts benefiting over 2,700 area nonprofits.