HENDRICKS COUNTY, Ind. – Behind the doors of Sheltering Wings are new beginnings for those who walk through them.
“We really just want to focus on them getting safe and feeling safe,” said Development Director Paige Vanzo.
The shelter provides an emergency safe space for survivors of domestic abuse. According to a sign outside the community kitchen, 38 survivors, made of adults and children, currently call Sheltering Wings home.
“A lot of our clients come to us with very little,” Vanzo said. “They’ve had to flee their abusive situation, and sometimes they come in with just the clothing on their back or a few bags of belongings.”
Through its crisis intervention model, Vanzo said they answer calls and approve clients to come in. Once a client is accepted into the facility, the work begins on building a plan to help them achieve stability and independence.
A big part of that, Vanzo said, is making sure clients have basic items to care for themselves.
“Anything you can think of that you may need in your personal life, you have a need for in your home, there’s likely a need for that here at the shelter,” she said.
The shelter is currently holding its Christmas in July fundraiser, which stemmed from the need for donations around this time of year.
“At Christmas time, for years, our pantry would be stocked, and we would see donations flow through the door and our clients needs met by the community, which was so huge,” she said, “but around mid-July the shelves start to go bare, and we start to run out of some of those necessities.”
There’s a range of needed items and the shelter updates its Wish List accordingly, but Vanzo said some needed items include laundry soap, laundry detergent, paper towels, men’s body wash and deodorant, food/snacks and ethnic hair care products.
“We have a very diverse client base, and we want everyone who comes here to feel special, and welcome and have the things that they personally need,” Vanzo said.
The need for help comes as inflation continues to soar. Vanzo said it’s a concern for many reasons, especially as the facility runs on donations.
“You’re in a situation to where you’re thriving because donors support the work,” she said. “When you see inflation rise, or the economy feels pressed in any way, then there’s that worry that maybe folks won’t give as much or won’t get involved as much.”
Vanzo said the continuous hardships on the economy can also lead to more abuse and force more people to seek their services.
“Societal stressors, like that, increase abuse. It’s been shown to increase abuse,” she said. “We’re worried about the clients who haven’t called us. We’re worried about the clients, who are calling and coming into shelter, and just making sure that their basic needs are met.”
In the meantime, Vanzo hopes Hoosiers will consider the thought to “give, gather or share.” The motto encourages people to give donations (money or needed items), gather and start a donation drive through your neighborhood, work or church, or share the mission of Sheltering Wings to your community in hopes of reaching someone, who can benefit from the services.
Christmas in July runs through the entire month.