Interview with A Paint It Purple Beneficiary: AWAIC

The goal of all Paint It Purple cupcake bake sales and fundraising parties is to raise money and awareness of agencies working to end VAW in their local communties. In 2012, we have four beneficiaries, each of whom we interviewed to learn more about the work they do. Today’s interview features Jackie Nelson, Development Coordinator of Abused Women’s Aid in Crisis in Anchorage, Alaska.

AWAIC is dedicated to domestic violence safe shelter and intervention. We value education, advocacy, partnership, sustainability and credibility.

Tell us about AWAIC (Abuse Women’s Aid in Crisis, Inc) and the work that you do to stop Violence Against Women.

The mission of Abused Women’s Aid in Crisis is to provide safe shelter and intervention services to the domestic violence victims within the Anchorage Community and beyond. We value education, advocacy, partnership, sustainability and credibility.

We believe that everyone has the right to live in a fear-free environment and works toward eliminating domestic violence.

The purpose of AWAIC is to intervene in the cycle of violence by providing safe shelter for women and their children; support, education and advocacy for children, women and men; and community education. 

What are the unique challenges of working to stop Violence Against Women (including Domestic Violence) in your community/area?

In the last four years, AWAIC has seen an increase in the average length of stay in the program due to limited transitional housing options and long wait times for permanent housing subsidy programs. In FY 08, there was drop in the numbers served and the average length of stay in the shelter was just 18 days and in FY11, that number has grown to 29 days. The emergency shelter was at or over capacity 58.3% of the year. The demand for services and provision of basic needs has consistently increased. The program is supporting families with safe shelter and supportive services for a longer period of time in an effort to ensure that safe options are provided and permanent housing is achieved. When victims of domestic violence are faced with limited or no options for safe transitions from the emergency shelter, the likelihood they may return to abusive situations increases, perpetuating both the cycle of violence and homelessness.

Tell us about some of your successful efforts and campaigns over the years and how they work to prevent/intervene/stop violence against women in your community area.

Abused Women’s Aid in Crisis (AWAIC) has been providing domestic violence safe shelter and intervention services to women, men and children impacted by domestic violence since 1977. AWAIC is located in Anchorage, the largest community in the state of Alaska with a population of over 290,000.  The Municipality of Anchorage (MOA) reaches from Eklutna Lake to Girdwood. AWAIC is the only domestic violence shelter between Palmer and the Kenai Peninsula and has a 52-bed capacity. As there are no other domestic violence shelters in this community, AWAIC provides a service of critical need.  Other local shelters are not equipped to deal with the unique safety concerns that accompany sheltering victims of abuse who often have abusive partners actively searching for them.

AWAIC staffing levels must remain safe and consistent with two or more staff on shift at all times to ensure quality services are being provided to participants while security cameras and other systems are being continuously monitored.  AWAIC shelter staff must be highly skilled in safety planning, crisis intervention, trauma informed care, confidentiality, the criminal and civil legal systems and the dynamics of domestic violence and sexual assault.  These areas of expertise make it possible for the staff to support victims of abuse as they work to stay safe and achieve independence.

Why did AWAIC decide to take part in “Paint It Purple” this year?

To build outreach and fundraising  in the community.

How do we encourage people to take an interest in and step up to help stop violence against women and what sort of help does AWAIC need to keep your efforts going? .

AWAIC estimates that 47,160 meals and snacks are provided to residents in shelter, which also feeds nonresidential participants and their children coming in for support.

1) Shelter 370 women and 260 children in the next year and provide services to 325 nonresidential participants.

2) Provide 47,000 meals and snacks to ensure that basic needs of shelter residents and nonresidential participants are met.

3) Provide 23,000 crisis intervention, personal support, resources and referrals, groups, legal and supportive advocacy and case management; to assist victims to achieve issues on their case plan; to include access to resources to increase income, housing and meeting basic needs.

4) Respond to 2,500 crisis calls and 8,000 community resource calls.

All of these resources come at a cost to AWAIC we need  unrestricted  funds to keep our shelter active and moving forward.

The annual “Paint It Purple” campaign raises awareness about Violence Against Women (VAW) by getting a global audience to “paint” the internet purple during the campaign using social media. The campaign also raises funds for The Pixel Project, our partners and participating VAW nonprofits worldwide through cupcake bake sales and “Paint It Purple” parties. For more information, visit


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