1. Interior Designers or Decorators
Many families impacted by domestic violence find themselves spending weeks to months in a domestic violence safe house before securing a permanent home. Domestic violence shelters are responsible for offering a space that is comfortable and safe to survivors and their families. In A Safe Place to Start Over: The Role of Design in Domestic Violence Shelters, Sarah M. Kesler explains the importance of having spaces that promote a sense of security, privacy, and a sense of “home” and comfort. Programs can think about elements that strengthen these concepts in order to accommodate victims’ needs while staying in shelter. The reality is that many domestic violence programs don't have the funding to hire interior designers and decorators. As a volunteer interior designer or decorator, you can assist programs in creating a thoughtful design that dignifies survivors by meeting their needs.
In 2006, the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence began developing the Building Dignity Project. This project aspires to show that through the design and collaboration process, domestic violence housing programs can shape their environment to reflect and compliment their mission and values. The Building Dignity Project serves as a common reference for anyone involved in building or designing emergency housing for survivors and their families: advocates, fundraisers, architects, designers, and builders.
Many find gardening to be a therapeutic experience. Gardening activities that involve survivors in all phases of horticulture – from planting, tending, and/or selling products – can be a means of income as well as a coping mechanism and healing strategy for survivors.
The Green House 17
A community driven and community supported domestic violence organization in Kentucky, the GreenHouse17, provides each program participant with the opportunity to work on a farm. What makes GreenHouse17 truly special is the opportunity to be out in the fresh air on a beautiful 40-acre farm, growing flowers and fruits, vegetables and herbs while growing strong in body and mind. Residents can harvest herbs, create produce baskets, bottle honey and make floral bouquets for sale. These activities have been proven to be both satisfying and a boost to self-esteem of each participant.
If you are an avid gardener thinking about volunteering, we recommend you to take a look at the documentGuidelines for Starting a Horticultural Therapy Program by Partnering with Volunteers by the Rutgers Cooperative Extension.
Planting and maintaining a Tribute Garden is a great way to remember those that have been affected by domestic violence as well as bring awareness to the cause. This permanent tribute can serve as an important reminder that domestic violence exists and that the lives devastated by domestic violence should be remembered with dignity, love, and respect. Volunteer gardeners can also assist with attending to landscaping around the memorial garden, safe house, and administrative offices.
3. Handy Workers
A volunteer handy worker can help provide a well-maintained, safe environment at a domestic violence program. Some of the ways a handy worker can make a difference is by painting, helping with minor plumbing issues, performing minor repairs, cleaning for special events, and taking on other tasks related to facility maintenance.