Who is IVSHA?

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

The Illinois Valley Safe House Alliance is a group of dedicated women who work to end the violence perpetrated against them and other women throughout the world. I would like to tell you about one of these women who is doing this work as a volunteer. She receives little compensation for the difficult work that she is doing, but she is here every day, is passionate and good at what she does. Her name Is Cathy Fulton and she is our AmeriCorps/VISTA volunteer.
Cathy is a survivor herself. We worked with Cathy several years ago to help her navigate her way through life after domestic violence, although in many cases, as in hers, the abuse didn’t end when she left. She had been with an abusive partner since age 14 and had three sons who she was trying to protect from their abusive father. Living with an abuser doesn’t often allow a victim to get much experience in the world outside the relationship or develop job skills. Abusers generally keep their victim powerless and isolated and beat down so they can’t leave. Cathy had the strength to leave when the abuse was directed at her children, which is frequently the reason women leave.
As with most of the women we work with, Cathy found her way to someplace new and we lost track of her for a few years. In the summer of 2013, she was back in the area and called asking if we had paperwork from when she had been here years before, as her abusive husband continued to abuse her through the courts. This was around the same time we were looking for a VISTA worker to help us with the micro enterprise and I remembered that Cathy was someone who always showed up for group, who was articulate, intelligent and pleasant to be around. Although she was quiet and reserved, I knew that given the opportunity, she would flourish. I called her to ask if she was interested in applying for the VISTA position and she said she would love to work with the Alliance, so the journey began.
We made a good decision when we choose Cathy. She has exceeded all our expectations as a VISTA Volunteer. She does what she is asked to do immediately. If she doesn’t know how to do something, she figures it out and then teaches the rest of us. She is dedicated and passionate about the work. She has made new connections, has brought in donations, has developed the online store and is creating a training protocol that the AmeriCorps/VISTA program wants to pick up and use as their training. We wish we could keep Cathy for longer than her VISTA commitment, but have a feeling that she is going to go on to do something fantastic with her life. We know that she will be successful in whatever she chooses to do.

Leave a Reply