- Posted by Sarah Swiston
- On June 23, 2022
- A New Direction, AND DV services, Beverly, Chicago, community-based services, counseling, COVID-19, Domestic Violence, domestic violence agency, domestic violence counseling, DV agency, dv counseling, Morgan Park, WINGS, WINGS Program
A New Direction, created in 2011, provides community-based counseling services to clients in the Beverly/Morgan Park and surrounding communities along with education and advocacy. This year, A New Direction (AND) has joined WINGS network of community-based services.
A New Direction
Jessica McCarihan is one of the founding board members of AND. She first became passionate about the cause of domestic violence (DV) after one of her friends came to her hysterical about the abuse she was suffering from her boyfriend.
“I never dreamed I would ever see a friend so scared and sad and in such pain. It was that day I vowed to do something to help women, like my friend; women who are victims of domestic violence,” Jessica shares and continues,
“I was fortunate to be friends at the time with Rita, a domestic violence counselor, who taught me how to help my friend by telling her she was not alone. I began by volunteering, organizing toy drives and donating hair products.”
When Rita’s former DV agency abruptly closed in 2009, a grassroots group of community members mobilized so survivors in their community would have a place to turn for counseling. A New Direction opened in 2011 and has grown to serve families in the Chicago neighborhoods of Beverly, Morgan Park, Mt. Greenwood, Evergreen Park, Oak Lawn and surrounding communities.
Rita became a counselor at AND, while Jessica served as the President of the Board of Directors for 8 years. Then in 2020, Jessica took the role of AND Executive Director.
“The pandemic was a challenging time for domestic violence survivors and for AND. Like other social service agencies, we pivoted our counseling services to a virtual platform.
Victims had to find a safe place and time to talk to our advocates. We had to creatively help survivors in dangerous situations safety plan when they were forced to be home 24/7…sobering advice like stay away from stairwells and sinks,” Jessica shares.
Despite the challenging times, AND continued to provide hope to survivors. Jessica says, “We see our success as helping one survivor at a time, helping one family break the cycle and the more we help the better…
Joining Forces with WINGS
“I first met Rebecca Darr (WINGS President & CEO) in the advocacy group Chicago Says No More. Ever since then she has become my mentor in the DV world,” Jessica continues, “We began talking about what a marriage between our organizations might look like and it turned out the timing was perfect because WINGS Board had been exploring ways to offer new methods of community-based services for survivors not in need of housing.”
Although AND is now a part of WINGS, support for the local counseling agency has not wavered. AND Board members have joined WINGS newly created A New Direction Leadership Council, Jessica has joined WINGS Board of Directors and Rita remains a domestic violence counselor working out of their office in Beverly.
“Our Board members also plan to continue fun fundraising events to support services offered in our neighborhood,” Jessica says.
Jessica adds, “Since day one, helping survivors overcome domestic violence as they navigate their journey to safety has been AND’s top priority. Together with WINGS, we are confident our legacy will grow more quickly and empower more Southwest siders seeking to liberate themselves from the life-threatening constraints of domestic violence. We are grateful to our loyal supporters and for this opportunity as we look to our future together.”