What is Middle Way House?
Middle Way House Inc. is a domestic violence shelter and rape crisis center. Some of the work we do includes: providing emergency shelter for individuals fleeing domestic abuse; transitional housing for women with children; legal advocacy services; a 24 hour Crisis Line; prevention programming in the schools and community; a licensed childcare for the children of our residents as well as a Youth Program. We also have on-scene advocates who meet a victim who has experienced abuse or a sexual assault at the hospital. We also operate support groups for victims and help with safety planning.
How did you come to work for Middle Way House?
My degree is in Criminal Justice and as I worked with incarcerated women I realized how so many of them had experienced domestic and sexual abuse in their life that factored into their criminal behaviors. I always made referrals to Middle Way House because I knew first hand, as a former client, how much Middle Way House’s services could help these women. When they had a job opening and asked me if I would like to apply, for me, it was like going full circle in my life and I am appreciate every day to work for such a great organization.
How long have you worked for Middle Way House?
6 1/2 years.
What is your role within the organization?
As Community Service Coordinator, some of the work I do is listed below but basically I do whatever is needed….
Organize all our 8 hour volunteer trainings and help the volunteers become placed in our various volunteer positions; Public speaking engagements in the community and in IU classes; Attend organization and community meetings representing Middle Way House such as United Way meetings, Housing Network meetings, Domestic Violence Task Force meetings; Maintain the free “share Store” at the Rise (our transitional housing program); Maintain the Food Pantry at the Rise; Conduct a support group in the jail for women who have experienced domestic violence; Conduct a support group at the Rise for our residents; Supervise our ACE from the Service Learning Program; Provide “welcome Baskets” for new residents and help ensure new residents have items they need when they first move in to the Rise; Help maintain staff coverage at the Rise; and the list goes on and on….but I love it!
What is the best part about working for Middle Way House?
There are so many things! The staff is wonderful. This can be difficult work but you always have co-workers who support you. For me, working to end domestic violence and helping survivors reach their goals is very rewarding. Every day is different and while there are difficult moments, it is always rewarding.
What is the hardest part about working for Middle Way House?
Seeing and hearing about the devastation caused by domestic violence is difficult. It is so important to remember self-care working (or volunteering) in a domestic violence agency.
What positions are currently open at Middle Way House?
We currently have a position open for a County Service Specialist. This staff member would provide supplemental client-support services in Owen, Martin, and Greene Counties. I am not sure if this position will be filled by the date of the safety fair or if we will have other positions available at that time. We always welcome volunteers as well as internships and will certainly have information about these and any positions we have open at the event.
What would the ideal candidate(s) look like for this/these position(s)?
Prospective employees should have an understanding and acceptance of diversity. They should also be able to work under a trauma informed, empowerment model and be able to respect the decisions of domestic abuse survivors. They must understand our confidentiality requirements. They should be able deal effectively in high stress situations and be able to practice self-care as needed to prevent burnout. Also, an understanding
of poverty can be helpful.
Do you have any advice for undergraduates looking to enter this field?
In working in this field, one of the most important things to remember is that everyone knows their personal situation best and everyone has a right to make their own decisions. While there are times that we may want to tell someone what they should do in their life, we have to let people make their own decisions and support them in their decisions and provide resources and information to them that can help them stay safe. Understanding trauma informed care and working from an empowerment model is very important.
Erika Wheeler is a Junior pursuing a degree in Community Health. As a native of Bloomington with no college aspirations, she grew up thinking of Indiana University as nothing but a big pain in her small hometown. She has since changed her mind.
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