Category: About Us

Introducing Our Board Members.

Name: Ms. Gray Conway 

Current City/State of Residence: Cave Junction/Oregon           

 Job Title/Career Specialty: Rogue Community College Facility Coordinator/Communications

 How did you get involved with the Illinois Valley Safe House Alliance? I was invited to become a board member.

 What makes the Safe House Alliance unique? The organization is unique in serving a remote rural community within a county that is primarily served by another organization.  Before the Safe House Alliance existed, our community was under served by the other organization due to the geographic challenges facing survivors in crisis. 

One thing you are excited to help improve or develop at the Alliance: I am excited about the development of a micro-enterprise that promises to afford employment training opportunities for survivors, and to involved in long-range planning for a local shelter.

An example of a time when you have seen the impact that the Alliance has had and/or the promise of things improving: I’ve been thrilled to see the community-wide impact the Alliance has had by leasing our facility to the US Postal Service during the construction of a new Cave Junction Post Office.  The former post office was destroyed by a fire leaving much of the community at a huge disadvantage without a local post office.  This is a great example of how the Alliance has flexed to benefit the entire community while serving the survivors of domestic abuse and violence.  

 Your hidden talent: My hidden talent is doing complicated bead work with tiny seed beads.

 One place you have always wanted to visit: Ireland, Nepal, Tibet, Scotland, and Wales

 Something that might surprise people about you: It could surprise people that I have five grown children.

 Your favorite hobby/pastime:  Caring for my nine cats, two Boston Terriers, and five acres of land.

 Your passion: My passion is to be a small part of large efforts to help empower people.

2013 Year-End Update

The Alliance survived 2013 thanks to a dedicated staff, board, volunteers and you, our donor supporters.  With full staffing in 2012 we served 739 individual survivors — a 30% increase from the year before.  In 2013, with reduced hours and only a part-time advocate we will have served over 300 survivors.  It was a lean year and we had the time to reflect on what is core for achieving our mission — ending violence against women

The Illinois Valley is a remote rural area (more than 60 minutes from a population center of 50,000). Evidence indicates that survivors in remote rural areas face additional barriers that prevent them from accessing services:

·         Geographic, social, and technological isolation

·         difficulty maintaining anonymity

·         one road in and out of town

·         absent or deficient resources within the community

·         depressed economic opportunities

·         inadequate public transportation

·         high rates of poverty

— all of these factors make it extremely difficult for survivors to access safety or to get to Grants Pass to access services. 

Local community-based advocacy services save lives. 

We’re going into 2014 with a strong plan for providing advocacy services, doing the needed social justice work, and engaging more of our community in prevention efforts that will someday mean an end to violence against women, and we hope an end to all oppressions and violence — none of us are safe until all of us are safe.


Issues around economic security are larger than simply a lack of income. Local survivors often face:

  • No recent work history, interrupted work history, or gaps in employment
  • No transportation or unreliable transportation
  • No savings or expendable income
  • No bank account
  • No phone or phone service or computer
  • Compromised credit as a result of financial abuse
  • Low financial literacy
  • No  social support system

We received a three-year award from the Office on Violence against Women.  The application included a plan for delivering services and engaging the community in prevention work. As part of that plan, we engaged eight community partners from throughout Josephine County to join us in the work of ending violence against women. We’ll hire the remaining staff on January 2 and be ready to fully implement our plan. We are confident that at the end of these three years we will have reached the goals outlined in the grant and have made progress toward our ultimate goal of ending violence against women. The board will now begin a strategic plan to address diversifying our funding streams, fundraising, and a transitional plan for my eventual retirement in 2017.  We are confident that at the end of three years we will be at a more stable place and prepared to take the organization forward with new leadership.

The Oregon Department of Justice has taken a stand that until domestic and sexual violence services are fully funded throughout the state (rural, urban and tribal), they will award funds to stabilize programs within geographic areas where they believe survivors have access to them.  In Josephine County this means that the bulk of state funding goes to Women’s Crisis Support Team and the Alliance receives a lesser amount, 80% and 20% respectively.  We currently receive approximately $22,000 annually and have no reason to expect an increase in the near future.

In some ways the organization and survivors are on a parallel track — trying to achieve economic security.  Our Micro-enterprise Program addresses the problem from both sides.  We’ve created an online store presence as stage one of the project. We currently have a VISTA volunteer that is developing products and a job training program. This program will allow us to support survivors as they address their specific economic security issues and gain the skills necessary to find living wage jobs. The organization will use a portion of the proceeds from product sales to fund services.  Even in a lean year, we took huge steps forward: creating the online store, updating our website, developing a Facebook presence, and most significantly, we were gifted rights to the Laughing Bear Poem and its portfolio of prints by Katherine Tilton. Look for exciting product announcements by the middle of 2014. This year we’ll be looking at other organizations involved in microenterprises and developing a business model that will be equitable for the workers while still providing a stable source of funding for the Alliance.  As usual, we have really big dreams and understand the need to take careful steps toward achieving them.

Nationwide, 52% of women living in domestic violence listed not having the resources to leave as the main reason that they remain in a violent relationship. Locally, 99% of those served are below the poverty line. 

So, services for survivors in the Illinois Valley are currently on solid ground, but it’s going to take hard work, support, focus and grace to ensure services remain in our community until our work is complete. Staff knows how to provide cutting edge victim-centered services. The board is hard at work finding ways to diversify our funding streams and improve our fundraising efforts.

You, our valued donors, are critical to achieving all these lofty goals and we’re counting on you to stay the course with us and share the glow of knowing you were part of the solution.  There are so many good things going on here, too many to write in one short letter, but my door is always open.  If you want me to come and speak to family or friends, I’m more than happy to come to your door.

May 2014 find us all prosperous, happy and grateful for all that is,