If you’re considering shelter for you or someone you know, you may be wondering what it will be like or if it will be the right choice for you. Please explore many of the commonly asked questions and call our hotline at 1.800.863.9909.
Why would I go to a shelter?
For one very important reason: to make sure you and your children are safe. And, so you can take time to think about what has happened to you, what to do next, and how to take those steps.
At Spruce Run-Womancare Alliance’s shelter, you’ll find helpful information, people to listen and to talk to, and a safe, confidential, and supportive living environment that will allow you to take a deep breath, relax—maybe for the first time in a long time—and make some informed choices about your future.
Remember, you don’t have to live at the Spruce Run-Womancare Alliance shelter in order to use the other services we offer, like our hotline, advocacy, or support groups.
Why might I choose not go to Spruce Run-Womancare Alliance’s shelter?
There are many reasons, but you might not—or should not—if you:
- Feel you wouldn’t really be safe there.
- Can be safe somewhere else.
- Can’t keep the shelter location confidential.
- Use alcohol or non-prescription drugs.
- Have pets, other than service animals, you don’t want to leave behind.
- Are violent to yourself or others.
- Can’t share living spaces with other women and their children.
If the Spruce Run-Womancare Alliance shelter isn’t right for you, we’ll work with you to find a different shelter or another safe place to be while you figure out the best plan for you. That could mean staying in your home with legal or economic assistance or relocating to be closer to friends or family. We care what happens to you, and we’ll help you think about options you might not have considered or thought possible.
What does the shelter look like? What will my life be like there?
The Spruce Run-Womancare Alliance shelter is a large, old, and lovingly restored home that looks like all the others in the neighborhood. It has an eat-in kitchen, two living rooms, four bathrooms, five bedrooms, and an office. It’s equipped with handicapped accessible features, including cooking area, bedroom, and bathroom.
You’ll have your own bedroom—shared with your children if they come with you—and all residents share the other living spaces. We’ve stocked our two playrooms with toys and games for children, and they can also play outdoors in our private, fenced-in yard.
We provide basic food items—you can bring or purchase other food too—and hygiene necessities, and we’ll help with other needs as much as possible. If you have time, the hotline worker will talk with you about what else you might want to bring with you. And our safety planning information might give you some more ideas.
You are responsible for your own meals, basic housework, and caring for your children. Often, residents will plan and cook meals together, a great way to spend time together and support each other.
Shelter staff is available most days to help you move forward with your plans. They will help you apply for benefits and find child care, housing, and other services like health care or counseling. We also offer parenting and budgeting information. And, our hotline is always available to you if you want to talk about your experiences and sort through your thoughts and feelings. Many women come to support group for the same reason. Children’s activity groups meet weekly.
For obvious reasons, we cannot have any weapons or violent toys and video games at the shelter.
Our shelter is a short-term place for you to live while you make plans and work toward establishing an abuse-free life. You are welcome to come and go as you need to, although—for safety reasons—you may not have visitors or be picked up at the shelter.
What about security? Is the shelter really safe?
Although no shelter can completely guarantee the safety of its residents, many precautions are taken to help ensure security.
What happens to children when they move into a shelter?
Many children whose mothers have been abused have themselves suffered violence at the hands of their fathers or step-fathers. Even so, leaving home can be scary, and children may resent living in a shelter and leaving pets and possessions behind. And they may miss their fathers. We care about your children. And we know you worry and wonder how the abuse in your home affects them.
So, we offer play and support groups that:
- Allow kids to be kids in a safe environment.
- Model respectful and caring behavior.
- Encourage them to talk about their feelings.
- Offer help with school work.
Kids’ groups meet while moms are attending their own support groups, and we also hold groups for kids who are in shelter.
Being a parent can be difficult in the best of times. We know that parenting when your life and the lives of your children are in crisis can be very hard. That’s why we offer parenting support, information about the effects of domestic abuse on children, and referrals to other community services that offer assessments and therapy.
We also work with you and the neighborhood schools to help make sure your children can continue their education, even if that means changing schools.
How do I find out more?
The first step is to call the hotline at 1.800.863.9909.
An advocate can help you think through whether shelter is a safe place for you and your children and how it would help you achieve your goals. We want to make sure everyone’s safety is considered and that there are as few surprises as possible for you and your children. As you may imagine, there are a lot of things to think about when going to a shelter.