In 1981 I became a VISTA volunteer serving with McClean County Womens Outreach -(MCWO) - a domestic violence program in rural McClean County, ND approximately 40 miles from Bismarck, ND. McClean County borders a Native American reservation, which meant that me and my co-workers would occasionally have clients from the reservation who needed a safe place to stay for a short time.
In fact, my co-worker and I sat through a murder trial for a woman who had been abused for many years and then, in an alcoholic blackout, killed her abuser (husband). We acted as advocates for her.
My regular duties were to write grants for financial assistance, serve clients (victims) and their children by helping them to acquire orders of protection against the perpetrator, find resources to assist victims and their children to find safe housing, jobs, a support network and build new lives without the abuser. I wrote a request to use office space in the basement of a local clinic (and received permission to use the entire basement). I set up a food and clothing shelter in part of the basement and solicited volunteers in the community to work in the food and clothing shelter, accountant part-time services with the finances and outreach volunteers throughout the large county we served as well as on the edge of the reservation. I wrote grants for funds to pay several part-time volunteers mileage and time expenses. MCWO received the first individual, grass-roots grant from the MS Foundation for Women and Children, which I used to support an outreach worker near the reservation. I also used my own home as a short-term safe shelter for victims and their children and I maintained a hot line phone in my home for after-hours crisis phone calls.
After my VISTA service ended, I became a full-time volunteer director for MCWO for a couple of years. Then I resigned to work on my bachelor's degree and moved back to Minnesota with my husband.