Denton County Friends of the Family (DCFOF) is committed to providing compassionate, comprehensive services to those impacted by rape, sexual abuse, and domestic violence while partnering with the community to promote safety, healing, and prevention. AmeriCorps VISTA, April Comperda, began the process of automating DCFOF’s bi-weekly newsletters and weekly board member newsletters to ensure that donor communication remains effective and sustainable. Automation provides non-profits, like DCFOF, with an innovative platform for functional, instantaneous donor behavior tracking. After sending the email newsletters out, April was able to determine how many people opened them and which parts received the most attention/clicks. Studying the feedback responses, April had the capacity to formulate segmented marketing personas based on similar behavioral trends. One persona that April identified was Millennials and the continuous upward trend of social activism. As a Millennial herself, April recognizes that her generation makes decisions based on personal values and actually will engage in the causes they care about. Even though, at the start of their career, Millennials don’t necessarily have the means to contribute financially, their giving capacity grows as their careers progress. Using their voices to speak out, volunteering, and participating in peer-to-peer fundraising are just some initial stepping stones leading to the future of committed donors. In the upcoming months, April plans to strengthen DCFOF’s donor communication methods and maximize the agency’s full potential with automation.
VISTA member Nicole Owens completed her year of service in April at Denton County Friends of the Family, an agency dedicated to providing compassionate, comprehensive services to those impacted by rape, sexual abuse, and domestic violence, while partnering with the community to promote safety, healing, and prevention. To raise awareness for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Nicole created educational social media content to share on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Sexual Assault Awareness posts on Facebook had about 15,000 views and almost 400 reactions, comments and shares. Twitter had over 7,000 views and about 170 engagements (clicks, likes, and re-tweets). The hope is that these facts about sexual assault will raise awareness and combat some common misconceptions people may have heard about sexual assault. Awareness is the first step in prevention and creating a community where fewer people experience sexual assault and those that do feel safe and secure in coming forward and getting help. Nicole will continue to serve the clients at DCFOF as she was hired as the Community Education Coordinator. Her primary duties will be to schedule and lead presentations at schools, assist with planning for awareness months, schedule and lead trainings in the community, and to train and supervise interns and volunteers for Speakers Bureau.
This month, Denton County Friends of the Family Speakers Bureau grew when two new members joined the group. VISTA Nicole Owens provided the first part of their training in which they learned the basics of intimate partner violence and sexual assault. It also got easier for volunteers to get involved with the creation of a shared speaker’s bureau calendar. Volunteers will easily be able to see when they can help and participate in presentations. One volunteer started presenting individually when Nicole became unexpectedly ill shortly before a presentation. With no other staff members available on such short notice, the speaker’s bureau volunteer was able to step up and represent Denton County Friends of the Family. VISTA Nicole’s training perfectly prepared this volunteer for any circumstance!
VISTA member, Nicole Owens and the Denton County Friends of the Family Community Education team worked together to revamp and organize their presentation for Denton High School’s freshman class. Nicole and the team added several activities and vital information to help the freshmen understand the dynamics of abuse and sexual assault. Each group of freshmen will be presented with three 90 minute classes on topics such as boundaries, abuse, and healthy relationships. Nicole and the team have already started the presentations for over 400 students at Denton High School and the presentations will continue into December.
October was Domestic Violence Awareness Month and to spread awareness, VISTA member Nicole Owens planned and coordinated two of Denton County Friends of the Family’s awareness events, as well as the Silent Witness Display and social media for the month of October. Nicole kicked off the month with The Clothesline Project at the Denton Square. Community members were invited to decorate a shirt to honor and show support for victims of intimate partner violence. Over 50 shirts were created and many more people stopped by the display to view the shirts and get more information. The following weekend, Rock N Stroll took place at Harvest House, featuring bands Remain and Puddin’ Taine. Hundreds of Harvest House customers had the opportunity to learn more about intimate partner violence while listening to great bands and viewing a display of Silent Witnesses, wooden silhouettes of women that represent victims of intimate partner violence. Silent Witnesses were also displayed at local Denton businesses for the month of October. Fifteen different businesses participated, as well as the University of North Texas and North Central Texas College in Corinth. Social media focused on domestic violence reached over 45,000 people on Facebook and over 10,000 people on Twitter. It’s unknown just how many people were able to participate in the different events or view the displays, but it’s clear that the goal of spreading awareness was definitely achieved.
Community Education VISTA, Nicole Owens, partnered with the Community Relations Department of Denton County Friends of the Family for a busy month of fundraising. Denton County Friends of the Family hosted Taste for a Cause- a silent auction featuring delicious food, drinks and music. Nicole created educational table toppers to be displayed at the event and ran a social media campaign to market the event throughout September. The event brought in a net profit of over $28,000. Days later, Nicole managed the social media for North Texas Giving Day, resulting in over $9,000 in donations. Nicole created a social media campaign for North Texas Giving Day that started at the end of August. These two events brought in over $37,000 to benefit Denton County Friends of the Family’s emergency shelter.
1 in 3 women and 1 in 9 men in the United States will be victims of domestic violence at some point in their lives, and on average more than 3 women are murdered by their partners every day. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM), and the AmeriCorps VISTA, Kimberly Shields, is in charge of planning an awareness event for Denton County Friends of the Family (DCFOF) called the Clothesline Project: a national awareness event to bring to light the prevalence of violence against women. Kimberly wrote to the national Clothesline Project to have DCFOF added to their database for future events. The Clothesline Project will send shirts to event locations nationwide for free and serves as a good resource for DCFOF. Kimberly solicited local businesses for in-kind donations of plain shirts and fabric paints to be used for the event. The resulting donations included 100 wooden clothespins, 33 shirts of varying colors, and a $50 gift card; totaling $238 of non-cash resources received. Kimberly also wrote a script for soliciting donations to be used by future VISTA members, staff and volunteers.
Denton County Friends of the Family is a partner agency of the Chisholm Trail RSVP, Inc. AmeriCorps VISTA North Texas project.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will become victims of intimate partner violence at some point in their lives. On average, more than 3 women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends every day. 20-25% of women in college reported experiencing an attempted or completed rape. Despite the high number of victims, only 2% of rapists will ever spend a day in prison. A major factor in the unimpeded continuation is that speaking out about domestic violence and sexual assault is considered uncomfortable and taboo.
Denton County Friends of the Family (DCFOF) believes that the first step in seeing a decrease in these crimes is to shine light on them in the public eye, and the best way to do that is by talking about them. The VISTA project at DCFOF created a Speaker’s Bureau, which is a group of volunteers committed to bringing attention to the issues of domestic violence and sexual assault, as well as the services that DCFOF offers to survivors and their families. VISTA member Kimberly Shields successfully recruited a Denton police officer as a speaker’s bureau volunteer. Through the recruitment of the police officer, the relationship between DCFOF and the Denton Police Department will be stronger and will further the cause of bringing an end to domestic violence and sexual assault.
DCFOF is a partner agency of the VISTA North Texas project hosted by Chisholm Trail RSVP, Inc.