This spring in honor of women’s herstory month and international women’s day, we decided to return to Prescott again for our spring break trip! We were so grateful to Stepping Stones for having us back for another trip focused on domestic violence and how we can help.
This time, it was much warmer than it was in January – which we were also thankful for. However, we did get hit with a ton of rain, something we don’t see much during spring break in Phoenix!
This time at Stepping Stones we got to do work in all of their locations, of course starting with their coffee shop for some complimentary coffees and smoothies (the best!!). Our first day began meeting with Jesus, Stepping Stone’s fearless volunteer coordinator (whom we later learned played professional soccer in his past – internationally!). Our group had many questions, from how to talk about resources to a friend who may be experiencing abuse, to how stepping stones keeps their shelter location a secret in order to keep the women and children safe.
For service this week we worked in the clothing store, the red barn (furniture and knick-knacks) and their location in downtown Prescott where they sell all sorts of things. Our first day was spent at the clothing outlet where our team participated in every job available! We did every step including opening donation bags and choosing what should go to the floor and what should be donated elsewhere, pricing and tagging items, and hanging clothes on the floor. A lot of us found our future in retail from discovering we had keen eyes for the potential of clothing donations and displaying clothes in the perfect way..
Our second day one of the case managers gave us a tour of the actual shelter that Stepping Stones runs. We got to learn so much about how Stepping Stones does things differently, and about domestic violence survivors. At Stepping Stones the emergency shelter is a lot like a home. There is a large living room, where one woman was filling out job applications while we were looking around. We passed by the room where the hotline is manned. For 24 hours a day every single day of the year, there is someone there to answer the phone. One thing that we noticed is that there is a lot of diversity among the survivors in the shelter. Some women are on their own, and others have children with them. All of the residents contribute to meals and chores for the entire shelter. The shelter is organized to be very communal which is unlike other domestic violence shelters. We also got to meet some of the residents living in the transitional apartments. These are fully furnished apartments that families can live in for up to two years. This is a great option for families that no longer need emergency shelters but still need a little time to save money for a housing deposit and other expenses.
Stepping Stones was the first domestic violence shelter in the entire country. In the beginning, Stepping Stones was located in Glendale, Arizona. At that time, domestic violence wasn’t considered a legal issue. We got to meet the fearless woman who founded Stepping Stones; she lobbied Congress, worked to make domestic violence illegal and provided shelter for domestic violence survivors. Getting to have lunch with her was a highlight of the trip, and certainly to our women’s herstory month!
On our way out the Executive Director of Stepping Stones stopped us and let us know that Devils Spark Change is always welcome to serve with Stepping Stones. We were very encouraged when she told us that DSC’s volunteers work harder than average volunteers and that we had expressed more interest in domestic violence as an issue than any other volunteer group. She was grateful that DSC came back for our spring break and she was confident that beyond the difference we made for Stepping Stones, that our students would continue to make a difference wherever they go because of their passion for awareness and supporting others.
We are excited to come back to Stepping Stones next year and continue to build on our partnership with this incredible nonprofit!