WINGS Safe Houses: Frequently Asked Questions and Staff Spotlight on Raquel, Kitchen Coordinator at WINGS Metro
- Posted by Sarah Swiston
- On June 22, 2023
- chicago metropolitan area, Chicago suburbs, children survivors dv, Domestic Violence, domestic violence agency, domestic violence FAQ, domestic violence organization, domestic violence safe house, domestic violence shelter, DV, DV agency, DV FAQs, DV safe house, DV shelter, family services, Housing Programs, kitchen coordinator, northwest chicago, Shelters, WINGS, WINGS Chicago, WINGS Program Inc
A stay at a WINGS Safe House is often the first step towards a new life for those who are fleeing an abuser. WINGS offers two Safe Houses: WINGS Suburban Safe House in the northwest suburbs of Chicago and WINGS Metro on the southwest side of Chicago. Recently, we spoke to Safe House staff about frequently asked questions and interviewed Raquel, WINGS Metro’s Kitchen Coordinator.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What should I do if I feel like I’m in danger?
Reach out for help. Call the 24-hour domestic violence hotline: 1.877.863.6338 or 847.221.5680. If it is immediate, call 911.
How do I know if I’m in a domestic violence situation?
Domestic violence takes many forms – physical, psychological, economic, sexual, emotional, and spiritual. The abuser may engage in violent and controlling behaviors such as physical assault, sexual abuse, rape, threats, intimidation, harassment or humiliation. Abusers may repeatedly belittle their partners or voice constant unreasonable criticism. Some abusers exert economic control over their victims by withholding money and access to financial resources. Victims often experience feelings of deprivation and isolation. If you feel like any of these things are happening to you, you are in a domestic violence relationship.
Yes! At WINGS, we know that many victims will not leave their abusers until they know that they can protect their children.
Youth at WINGS Safe Houses are able to have a Children’s Advocate. Highly trained, Children’s Advocates provide assessments, counseling and access to resources for health and educational needs. WINGS Children and Family Services also plans social enrichment activities.
What’s it like there?
When people hear shelter, many picture a large room with beds or cots. WINGS Safe Houses feel more like a home when you walk in. They are dormitory style with lounges, outdoor play areas, computer labs, a dining room and more.
WINGS Safe Houses are 24-7 facilities and staff are always available. It is a supportive environment, with Family Advocates assisting survivors in setting goals and providing access to resources.
Both Safe Houses host holiday or cultural celebrations to make survivors of all ages and backgrounds feel more at home. From Valentines Day to Thanksgiving to Holi or Hispanic Heritage Month, WINGS Safe Houses always seem to have a party in the works.
Learn more about important documents to take or how to start planning for safety.
Staff Spotlight: Raquel…“Let them heal through this food”
Raquel has been the Kitchen Coordinator at WINGS Metro since the safe house opened in 2016. Her role is important as meals bring families together and offers comfort in a challenging time.
A lot of times, people will come into the Safe House looking out of it. I like to create a family atmosphere. If I can tell the mom’s head is spinning, I will ask, ‘Would you like a hug,’ ‘Congratulations on today,’ or ‘I can tell you did the best job that you could.’
Kids will start out shy, like a baby bird. Then they start watching me cooking and may start asking questions: ‘What are you doing?’ or ‘what is that?’ They may ask to try something, and I always say ‘ask mommy’ to give control back to the guardian. It’s a form of teaching life skills. I also like to teach the kids how to play. We will jump or play with a toy truck or plane.
The male survivors we serve generally are less likely to open up initially. I try to be a constant person for them. ‘How was your day?’ or ‘What’s your theme song for today?’ Through listening and being non-judgmental, eventually most engage.”
Raquel finds joy in many aspects of her work
“I like when the dining room is quiet and then people come up for second portions. People will come up to say to me, ‘I can taste the love in your food,’ ‘This hits the spot,’ or ‘I like it when I come here. There is always a place for me and something to eat.’
Food is comfort. Food heals the mind and emotions. Food is counseling. People may come in full of anxiety and feel much better after they have eaten. People may be thinking about their day while they are eating: something that happened at daycare or work. By the time they are done, they may have worked out a solution.
My continued wish while I’m cooking: let them heal through this food.”
Help is available!
If you think you may be in an abusive relationship, WINGS is available to help.
The agency’s comprehensive approach ranges from emergency Safe Houses, Transitional Housing, Community-Based Services including mentorship and hospital partnerships and comprehensive children’s services. Click here to learn more.
Domestic Violence 24-Hr Hotline: 847.221.5680
To learn more about Counseling and/or Mentoring, call WINGS Intake Line: (847) 519-7828
The Intake Line is answered by trained crisis workers Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm. If you should call outside of these hours, please leave a message and a worker will return your call the next business day.