A message from our Board Treasurer
Henderson House – the only non-profit dedicated to support and shelter survivors of domestic and sexual violence in Yamhill County, Oregon – celebrates 40 years of service this year. I invite you this October (Domestic Violence Awareness Month) to join me in honoring this organization’s legacy by participating in our “40 Years of Hope” fundraiser.
Henderson House opened its doors in 1981 and for nearly all of the past 40 years (since 1983), I have volunteered my time in service of this agency. I have served as our Board treasurer for over 20 years. I say all of this to help frame what I want to share about this organization’s impact in our community – it is a truly profound legacy.
I was first moved to give my time in service to Henderson House because a friend of mine confided about the abuse that went on in her home when we were in high school. I had a wonderful childhood. I never feared for my safety. When this friend shared what they had experienced, it broke my heart. More than that, it made me realize for the first time how near and pervasive this reality is. I could no longer assume that it couldn’t happen to people I knew.
At that time, society didn’t look at domestic violence the same way that we do today. So many people saw it as a private, family issue that didn’t necessarily need to be addressed by anyone outside of the home. Over the years we have learned and understand more that it is a life-threatening pathology that we have the ability and responsibility to prevent and protect others from. That understanding, here in Yamhill County, is due in great part to Mary Henderson and her efforts, along with several other community members who got the organization off the ground back in the early 1980’s by pounding the pavement to get the support from the community to open up our little shelter back in 1981. So many of our great Executive Directors that we have had since Mary, have put forth great effort and vision to expand our services by collaborating with other organizations in Yamhill County to welcome prevention education, getting our young people in the schools educated on safe dating relationships, hosting support groups, and making sure that vital services are available for survivors.
I am so proud of our advocates who dedicate their careers to helping those in need of safety and to give our clients the confidence that they were denied in a previous relationship. These advocates are amazing, and they make me want to help Henderson House in any way I can. I have had the great privilege over the years of working with so many different people as members of the Board of Directors at Henderson House. I honor them for the time that they have served as well.
The privacy of those we help is tightly protected. But there have been so many times, when someone learns that I serve on the Henderson House Board, that they express their appreciation for what we do and share how we helped them though a tough time. It amazes me how many lives in the community we have been a part of protecting, how many people we’ve helped.
The success stories aren’t the only reason I continue to serve this organization. One foundational principal of our advocacy and service is empowering survivors to make the choice of what they need, how they want to be helped and what services to access. We never tell someone what they should do, we just present them with all the options available to them so that they can make the most informed decision for themselves. The hard part is when they decide too late, when cases of DV turn into murder cases… sometimes it costs the lives of the whole family. That’s the hardest part of this work. Those cases stay with you. They are a heavy reminder of why we do what we do.
Please join me in supporting this life-saving work by participating in our “40 Years of Hope” fundraiser this October. Here are a few ways you can show your support: (1) Make a donation to Henderson House (2) Participate in our Passport/Raffle (3) Bid on auction items in our online auction. I’m profoundly thankful for the decades of support we have received from this community and hope we can continue to provide them for years to come.
Henderson House Board Treasurer