GREAT FALLS — A new display is raising awareness about the work being done by the Great Falls YWCA to help women and children.
Purple foam butterflies have been placed on the lawn outside the YWCA office in Great Falls. There are 263, one for each woman and child the YWCA’s Mercy Home shelter has helped over the past year.
"We just wanted to show the community that we do help and we're here for them if they need us,” explained Donna Tackett, Mercy Home director.
The YWCA of Great Falls has offered resources to women since 1916; in the 1990s the association took on the Mercy Home program to offer temporary refuge to survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault. The organization offers counseling to women, mothers, and their children after living through traumatic events. Their goal is to empower women to make positive changes in their lives.
”Once they’re there, a lot of times they have a couple of days where they just need to acclimate themselves, to sleep, to cry, whatever they need. Then after a few days we start working on whether or not they would like housing assistance...they choose what their goals are, that’s what empowerment is all about,” said Sandi Filipowicz, director of the YWCA in Great Falls.
The agency saw a spike in need during the pandemic with what they call an ‘over-full’ shelter since July. Through the trials of the pandemic the YWCA was able to keep the shelter and programs available with a $7,000 PPP Loan, $10,000 CARES Act funding, and $25,000 from an anonymous donor through the national YWCA.
The addition of the Mercy Home allows the organization to provide a secret and secure location for survivors to stay hidden from their abusers and seek healing. “Women who have been assaulted or who are survivors of domestic violence or sexual assault - they tend to have the power and control taken from them by their abusers. So our goal is to give that power and that control back to them,” said Kim Bodily, YWCA and private counselor.
If you or someone you know is in an unsafe relationship or family environment and need help, call the Great Falls YWCA’s 24-hour hotline at 406-453-1018, or call 800-352-7449. Click here to visit the website.