Interview conducted by Patty Meier, Table to Table Board of Directors
As the pandemic stretches capacity and resources, DVIP continues to meet basic needs of those seeking shelter and support in crisis. As a long time partner DVIP has found ways to utilize rescued food to bolster their service offerings. Table to Table volunteers pack boxes of food for Domestic Violence Intervention Program (DVIP) nearly every day of the week, helping to ensure that DVIP can meet their clients’ basic needs.
“Table to Table helps us provide options in regard to food security,” says Elias Ortiz, the Director of Shelter and Youth Services at DVIP. T2T delivers food for immediate meal needs and also stocks the DVIP food pantry, which serves a broader group of clients beyond those in need of immediate shelter.
DVIP provides comprehensive support and advocacy services to victim survivors, focusing on immediate and long-term safety, empowerment, dignity, and hope. “Our mission is to empower individuals,” says Ortiz. “The gateway to DVIP services is the crisis line, so our primary audience is intimate partner violence.”
DVIP serves eight counties – District 6 in the state’s new system of funding domestic violence services. “State funding cuts have led to the elimination of domestic violence shelters from 32 to 8 statewide,” says Ortiz. The eight remaining shelters have to serve more people and compete for reduced funding, which is part of why DVIP expanded to additional counties.
“The [multi-county expansion] has brought challenges in establishing rapport, building trust, providing transportation, etc,” Ortiz says.
DVIP can build rapport and trust with individuals by immediately helping them stabilize, meet their basic needs, and help them maintain dignity through crisis. By building foundational trust, DVIP can then begin addressing clients’ trauma. The organization seeks out partnerships that can help meet essential needs and stretch their financial funding, allowing them to focus on their primary supportive services.
DVIP’s shelter is open 24/7, 365 days a year, serving 360 individuals in an average year. The shelter is always full. As soon as someone moves out, someone else moves in that same day. “Even more so during the pandemic, tensions at home are higher, and there are fewer places to go,” Ortiz explains. More than half of the individuals living in the shelter are under 18, with most of them being age six and younger. They often come in with only the clothes they are wearing.
DVIP has had to reduce their shelter capacity this past year due to COVID to allow for social distancing measures. Because of capacity limitations, DVIP sometimes utilizes hotel shelters for survivors. Partnership with T2T has been helping the organization meet basic food needs differently. Food collected and delivered by Table to Table can go with the families to hotel rooms. T2T has placed an emphasis on funneling more microwavable meals collected from food rescue routes to support families sheltering in hotels.
Ortiz has noticed that since the beginning of the pandemic in Johnson County, local nonprofits have learned how to be creative in their communications with each other to collectively meet the needs of the community they serve. In addition, they’ve learned to provide services in different ways to meet client needs, and DVIP is no exception. Ortiz and his staff have developed a “bed and breakfast” arrangement for some clients that allows them to stay with individuals in private homes, where they have a room and food provided and are able to stay close to their home.
“We [are serving] so many people right now that have been impacted not just by COVID, but also from losing jobs, or are under stress because there are fewer places … to be connected,” Ortiz says. “T2T is not just providing food items, but providing options for people to be safe.”
We thank DVIP for the important work they are doing to help our neighbors and for partnering with us to strengthen their services for survivors.
Thursday, Feb. 25 is DVIP’s 24th Annual Souper Bowl, reimagined to keep everybody safe in light of Covid-19. Learn more here.