From the Director – Microenterprise

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Our microenterprise online store is about to launch. The name of the store is Brown Bear Remembers, which comes from Katherine Tilton’s poem, the Laughing Bear. The logo is in final design and we’re ready to start our first line of t-shirts, also based on the Laughing Bear. We also have blank greeting cards from Rita Loyd. Eventually we will have posters and grocery bags.
This project has been supported by VISTA volunteers for the last two years. The first year we had Matthew Abts, an attorney from the Portland area. Matthew built the skeleton for our updated website and the online store and wrote a business plan and training modules for the next year’s volunteer. Then came Cathy Fulton. Cathy is a survivor that we worked with in the past. Today she is safely away from her abuser, although he continues to haunt her from afar. She was the perfect person to help us identify all the barriers that a survivor has to complete in order to develop job skills while dealing with the effects of trauma. She has completed the online store process and is writing more training modules. She articulates the survivors’ needs in ways we might not have thought of and for that we will be eternally grateful.
The microenterprise addresses two separate goals. The first is to provide a supportive environment to survivors—one that takes into account their additional barriers and makes her healing and safety the number one goal. We will primarily be working with survivors who are mandated to perform work experience. It takes a lot of finesse to work with someone who is traumatized and may even be living in a dangerous home. Her safety, physically and emotionally, will be at the forefront of the process.
A second goal will be to provide job training, give job experience and help survivors get jobs. The two goals require very different approaches and that’s why we separated them out. This second goal may actually generate a revenue stream for services in the future.
Both goals support survivors and our mission to provide services and support to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking.
Unfortunately, the VISTA program will close in southern Oregon after this year. The Alliance will be seeking funds from local foundations.

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