Advocating for Domestic Violence Victims

By Patty Sorrells, Executive Director at Next Step Ministries

One of the many reasons why the Town of Kernersville is a great place to live is because we have such a close and caring community. Proof of that can be found in the concern for others provided by non-profits like Next Step Ministries. Many are aware of how Next Step Ministries began, however, here is our story.

Next Step Ministries was founded by a few of our leaders in the community after a local school teacher, Martha, became a victim of domestic violence homicide. Her husband took her life. The community was shaken by this incident and concerned that there were no services available in Kernersville to help their own. Thus, Next Step Ministries was created to provide shelter for women and children fleeing from domestic violence.

Over the last 22 years, NSM has continued to provide shelter for survivors of domestic violence. Our shelter provides clothing, food, transportation to court, court advocacy and accompaniment, and resource referrals through case management. The shelter is for victims who are in imminent danger and in need of emergency shelter. It is not a transitional home or a homeless shelter. Once a woman or family enter NSM doors, they work with a case manager on assessing their needs and putting their goals and plans into action. A coordinated effort with other community agencies begins the next chapter in the life of a survivor. We continue to provide advocacy for victims after leaving our shelter as needed. The cycle of domestic violence does not end once a victim enters our services. That is just the beginning of changing a victim’s course in life.

Providing shelter is only a portion of services that are needed by survivors and their families. NSM has recently added a victim advocate that works directly with the Kernersville Police Department and the judicial system. Navigating the judicial system is daunting and can be re-victimizing to survivors. We assist with educating victims on how the system works, how to apply for a Domestic Violence Protective Order (50B) and accompanying the victim during all civil and criminal court proceedings.

Prevention and community education are crucial to stopping the cycle of domestic violence. Through our Resource Center, we provide community education workshops and classes that address the cycle of domestic violence, characteristics of an abuser, financial classes, referrals for job interviews and resume writing, dealing with anxiety, and ongoing support groups for survivors and their children.

Next Step Ministries is working closely with law enforcement and will begin education classes in conjunction with KPD School Resource Officers. Domestic violence often begins in the early years of a person’s life, such as when a child grows up in a home where violence exists, or when a teen experiences dating violence. It is important to educate our young people on how not to become a victim and how to talk with their parents or key people in the school system to report abuse.

Our Thrift Store provides victims an opportunity to shop for clothes, housewares, and other items they may need as they move into their new home. Many find treasures they were not expecting to find at prices that are affordable. Our Thrift Store serves our Kernersville community well while providing our largest revenue stream that helps us to continue to serve victims of domestic violence.

We have through the years worked with many local churches as well. Small church groups have invited us to speak about domestic violence and our needs. Many of those groups have adopted NSM as their community mission and visit us monthly with their much needed and appreciated donations. We are also available to assist youth directors, church pastors, and counselors on how to address the issue with their congregations and how we can support them.

We continue to grow our services to the community of Kernersville and are excited to see what the future holds and how we can grow our partnerships within our community.

As with any non-profit, we are only able to provide these services with the financial generosity of personal donors, corporate sponsorships and partnerships, fundraisers, foundations, and grants. We are so thankful for a community who, through the years, has supported our mission and without fail continues to be there for us. Last year was so very challenging, and we were unable to hold some of our in-person fundraisers. This year continues to be a challenge; however, we have several fundraisers that we hope the community will participate in.

How can you help NSM? You can become a monthly donor at whatever level you are able. You can participate as a sponsor for our fundraisers or sign up as a participant in one of our virtual runs. Your organization can sponsor a fundraiser and donate the proceeds to NSM. We always need volunteers at our Thrift Store or our shelter. Donating to our Thrift Store is great, but shopping is even better as that is what provides revenue for our agency. We can always use words of encouragement! Our administrative offices are now located in The Factory, Suite 238, in Downtown Kernersville! Visit our website at www.NextStepDV.org to learn more about NSM and to donate online. Follow us on facebook for announcements and sales at the Thrift Store. We have many ways to help domestic violence victims. We would love to talk with anyone interested in partnering with us.

First Christian Church Ministries Women’s Ministry is holding an event that has been rescheduled to April 17 this year. Nicole C. Mullin, singer, songwriter, author, and speaker will be sharing her story of surviving domestic violence combined with song. Tickets can be bought on FCCM’s website or NSM’s website. This will also be a time for education about domestic violence and NSM services. We will be holding two virtual runs again this year. We are excited that we have a golf tournament scheduled for October 16, hosted by Logan Robbins. We have many community members who are faithful monthly donors. We are so appreciative of the many gifts throughout the year. Thank you, Kernersville!!! We love our community!!!

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