Asian Women’s Shelter
Q: What is the problem or need in the community that your organization is working to address with the KACF-SF grant this year?
A: Asian Women’s Shelter is working with KACF-SF this year on a project called K-PEACE (Koreans Preventing and Ending Abuse Through Community Engagement).
Asian Women’s Shelter (AWS) believes that strong communities are built on a foundation of healthy relationships and families. Ending domestic violence means opening the doors to healthy childhoods, healthy bodies and minds, connected extended families, genuine community bonds and relationships, and higher community potential.
Every community struggles with domestic violence. And every community has natural leaders within it who are resisting collusion with or normalizing of domestic violence, and advocating for safety and peace.
But unfortunately, education about nurturing healthy relationships and understanding domestic violence tends to be tailored toward specific English-speaking audiences only. This sets so many communities back, because cultural change away from violence must come from within a community; it must be culturally responsive and integrated.
Through K-PEACE, AWS is working with KACF-SF to engage Korean advocates who have already been recruited, trained and hired by AWS as volunteers, interpreters, and bilingual advocates. AWS is training and supporting these Korean community members to develop their own culturally grounded Korean language curricula on understanding domestic violence and supporting those who are surviving it, tailored for diverse Korean communities. AWS will then support the team of Korean advocates to facilitate conversations using their curricula in naturally occurring Korean groups and spaces.
Q. What do you hope to accomplish over the next few years, building on the progress made so far?
A. K-PEACE will develop a new edition of an educational booklet created by Shimtuh with AWS’s support in the early 2000’s. The booklet, called Peaceful Homes, Healthy Relationships, was created in Korean and English and then translated into Chinese. K-PEACE advocates will review and refine the language of the booklet, and print it for distribution across Korean communities.
Over the next few years, AWS hopes to build on K-PEACE to support these enthusiastic Korean advocates and diverse Korean community members to have safe and open conversations toward normalizing respectful relationships free from abuse. Community dialogues will eventually intersect with related conversations about safety for elders, for LGBTQ Koreans, for parents struggling with the violence of teenage and adult children, and for families struggling with the distance created by language and cultural barriers. These are the relationships that form the paths of our lives, and they must have support, intervention when wanted, and celebration.
Q. What do you love most about your organization’s work?
A. I love that Asian Women’s Shelter’s work changes, reinvigorates, and saves lives! And we do it in a way that is slow, thoughtful, intentional, and self-reflective. At AWS, every phrase matters. Each word or change in intonation or presence or absence of warmth on a crisis line call can be a defining moment in someone else’s life. This kind of attention and compassion reverberates through our communities. It reduces isolation and gives me, and I hope all of us, hope.
Q. We love hearing stories about community members served by grantee organizations. Please share an encouraging story about someone served by your organization/program.
A: AWS has worked with a Korean senior struggling through decades of domestic abuse. On paper, the survivor is elderly. Limited English proficient. Low income. Isolated. The social and economic barriers that she faces on a daily basis would keep most of us from getting up in the morning. Even though many of us know that it is often the grandmothers in our communities who carry the most dogged persistence and resilience, we still were unsure about the future of this client trying to survive on her own in the Bay Area.
But AWS advocate Miyoung persisted alongside her, applying for any benefits she was eligible for, looking for employers who might hire limited English proficient seniors. And every morning, this grandmother would face the world as if she were twenty! Daring to apply for jobs. Daring to take public transit alone.
One day in staff meeting, Miyoung shared with us that this elderly domestic violence survivor had gotten two part time jobs, and had started to receive SSI benefits. Miyoung told us what the survivor had said to her that morning: “Miyoung, thank you so much for all of you there at AWS. Now look, my pocket is thicker! Before it was always empty, and now for the first time it has some padding. Thank you!”