- Posted by Sarah Swiston
- On April 24, 2023
- chicago metropolitan area, Domestic Violence, domestic violence agency, domestic violence agency chicago, Domestic Violence Mentor, domestic violence organization, Domestic violence program, DV agency, dv counseling, DV Mentoring, DV programs, dv survivors, End Domestic Violence, end dv, success stories, Survivor Lifeline, survivor mentors, survivor success stories, WINGS, WINGS Program
WINGS Award-Winning Survivor Lifeline: connecting clients to survivor mentors…WINGS launched Survivor Lifeline two years ago, which matches compassionate volunteer Survivor Mentors with domestic violence survivors who are exiting shelters and moving into housing. Since it began, the program’s response has been impactful. Below read firsthand accounts from both Survivor Lifeline Mentees and Mentors. Learn how you can make a difference during WINGS Week of Giving.
Design and Launch
For over 20 years, WINGS has been providing mentoring for Housing Program graduates (Project Lifeline) and for Latinx survivors (ALAS Program). An expansion of these mentoring programs, Survivor Lifeline matches culturally compatible survivor mentors with survivors moving into housing programs throughout the Chicago region.
“WINGS graduates have come forward to serve in our other mentoring programs. Their words would provide inspiration and hope. Feedback from these engagements proved that survivors were benefiting from having a mentor who had lived similar experiences.
Volunteer mentors provide experience, strength, and hope as they have previously ‘walked in their shoes,’ and the concept for Survivor Lifeline was created,” April Brayton-Flores, WINGS Director of Community Based Services and the Suburban Safe House shares.
The program’s launch received a National Purple Ribbon Award from Domestic Shelters.Org and was one of only seven programs to receive an accompanying grant.
To date Survivor Lifeline has matched 50 survivors to mentors who are survivors themselves. These volunteer mentors, who have shared experiences and cultures, function as a bridge to community resources and aid in career aspirations.
This support network results in clients overcoming financial barriers and obtaining emotional independence. This program is designed to be replicable and scalable.
So far this year, 86% of the clients served in WINGS Survivor Lifeline program have reported an increase in their access to resources.
Oscar* – “Through WINGS I am able to discover myself…”
Oscar first came to know WINGS through the agency’s Hospital Program and began receiving ongoing counseling services. Originally from Africa, his abuser was using his immigration status over him to maintain power and control.
In addition to counseling, WINGS assisted Oscar with transportation assistance, needed winter clothing and a gift card for WINGS Resale to purchase a suit to wear as he navigates his journey with the court systems.
When he received his Survivor Lifeline Mentor to assist him with emotional support, he was extremely grateful.
Oscar shares, “I just want to thank you for always being kind and empathic about my trauma… You bring to bear both rich personal and professional experiences each time you talk with me, or counsel me, or motivate me to lift my spirit up from deepening depression and anxiety I am suffering from due to trauma of domestic violence I experienced.
In addition to connecting me with mentors that are guiding me and talking to me regularly,
- you still check on me to know if am fine or improving,
- you still make sure I get food from pantry,
- you still acquaint me with information and other resources that would be helpful to my situation.
The smile and excitement through which you talk to me makes me feel more relieved and relaxed. I can’t thank you enough.
I am also thankful to WINGS for being in existence and creating different programs to help everyone of us that is a victim and survivor of domestic violence. My situation would have been worse if not that I came across WINGS for counseling programs.
Through WINGS I am able to discover myself and make inroads to relief from the impacts of my trauma. All WINGS staff that have ever had something to do with me are amazing.
I am so grateful.”
Miriam* – “Storms Pass, they are not forever.”
Two years ago, Miriam first stopped by WINGS office at the Community Resource Center in Palatine. Miriam has since been receiving counseling and meeting with her Survivor Lifeline mentor weekly. Now as a result, she has mentioned giving advice to females at her work and points out red flags of relationships when she encounters them.
Miriam shares, “I’m writing this letter as a thank you to you and the WINGS program for the support you have given me. WINGS has helped me emotionally.
I was going through very difficult times when I arrived here to this state.
I was afraid to start again and fight alone to move forward for my family. But you taught me that I was already alone even being with my husband (because he no longer contributed anything). You taught me that I can go forward without fear and that storms pass, they are not forever.
Thanks also for the things that the WINGS Program gave me. I have no words to thank them for how much they have supported me.
I also want to thank the sponsors of the program and wish that God continues to bless them always for their kindness to other people they do not even know. Thank you very much for everything.”
Victoria* – “A week ago, I got my work permit…”
Last summer, Victoria stopped by WINGS table at a community event. She mentioned how she felt like she had been getting nowhere with her immigration case. WINGS and her Survivor Lifeline mentor referred her to Children’s Legal Center.
Months later she told us the good news: that she could now work legally.
Victoria shares, “First of all thank God, Elizabeth of the WINGS Program, and the lawyers of Children’s Legal Center in Chicago who are helping me with my immigration case.
A week ago, I got my work permit. This is amazing because the other lawyers I had met with had not made any progress. I am very grateful to them (Children’s Legal Center). The way they provide their help is very respectful, responsible, and dedicated to listening to you carefully. Thank you WINGS for helping me and I hope in God that you continue to help more people…God continue to bless you immensely.”
“It (Volunteering for Survivor Lifeline) makes me feel as if I can make a small difference in the world and motivates me to be grateful for what I have in my own life. Thank you so much for the opportunity!”
“I am proud to be a Survivor Lifeline Mentor at WINGS. It is inspiring to be a part of an organization that values the voices of survivors and provides much-needed resources.
My mentee, of only two months, tells me she feels so much better after she talks to me, and that makes what I do all that more special.
I am grateful for the opportunity to empower other women.”
You Can Make a Difference
Any amount you donate this week for Survivor Lifeline will be matched up to $25,000 by the Greer Foundation.
Double your impact this week and donate today:
Are you a Survivor Interested in Becoming a Mentor?
We are recruiting survivor mentors and Spanish-speaking mentors are especially needed.
*WINGS uses representative names and photos to protect the dignity and security of those we serve.