Thursday, April 26, was a red-letter day for Valley Family Center. Over 300 people came to celebrate the service, which the Center, and its incredibly dedicated staff of 20+ has provided to the community over the past 25 years. In that time over 36,000 men, women and children, have been assisted in healing their lives of broken relationships, fear, violence, battering, school failure, troubled marriages… the list goes on.
All of these people have been of limited and very limited means, with 80% requesting their services in Spanish. In addition many are victims of prejudice because of their immigrant status and several are here illegally. The Center has been instrumental in assisting many, who are victims of domestic abuse, in applying for and obtaining their UVISA – a specially adjusted way for victims to obtain legal status in the US. This is a one-chance-only opportunity. Thanks to staff and volunteers – who do rewriting and translation of documents and declarations, the Center has never had a client turned down. The Center has a sliding scale fee paying plan, which assists in the cost of services, but more importantly empowers clients to take responsibility for what they receive.
Over the years the Center has become known for the quality of its services. This was illustrated at the event when one of our clients, a former victim of domestic abuse over 18 years, shared her story with the guests. She now runs her own business and hopes to go to college and become a licensed therapist. In addition one of our therapists had her group paint dinner plates with faces on them – one half before getting help for abuse and the other half after they had decided to get help in dealing with the issue. These were fully set on a guest table in the middle of the room where one place was empty, symbolical of a woman who had died due to her injuries. Along with this a video entitled “I Got Flowers To-day” was presented showing pictures of abused women, either in the actual moments of abuse or after the fact. It lifted up the fact that women, particularly, tend to stay in the abusive relationship, believing the other person will change. The last woman who ‘received flowers today’ were for her funeral. This video has been posted on You Tube, but is still not officially named.
Many of the clients who attend the Center have had their children removed from the home and sent to foster care. So the staff works closely with the clients and the Department of Children and Family Services in helping parents obtain custody of their children. In line with its philosophy of dealing with the cause and effect, the Center works with the criminal courts in delivering services to perpetrators of domestic abuse. It has provided opportunities for a significant number of therapists to obtain their Marriage and Family Therapy licenses for which they are required to have completed their Master’s Degrees and then provide 3,000 hours of client contact under a licensed supervisor. It is essential that the majority of our therapists and group facilitators are fluent in Spanish and VFC provides an excellent environment for these student therapists to prove themselves and develop their skills to a high level of excellence.
So we rejoice in the vision and tenacity of Una Connolly, RSC, in starting and developing this tremendous apostolate, and the Congregation’s commitment, along with many others, to supporting it – certainly in line with our beloved foundress’ vision for our Service of the Poor. We have a beautiful Center, and people are amazed when they see it – it speaks to Mary Aikenhead’s vision that ‘We provide for poor people what rich people can afford to buy’. May the love of Christ, (and the generosity of many!), continue to impel us into the future.
To read more about the programs offered visit their website – CLICK HERE.