About New Choices
Whoe We Are
New Choices was incorporated in 1983 as a non-profit agency dedicated to the unique needs of victims/survivors of domestic violence and family abuse. We opened our first shelter, or “safe house”, in the late 1990s.
For over 25 years the advocates here have tirelessly worked to help victims of the crime of domestic/family violence through their individual crises. We meet with victims wherever they reach out to us: in the hospital, at their church or work, at the police station, wherever their ordeal has taken them. We can be found in the courts, helping victims through criminal and civil proceedings. In your communities, educating workplaces, church and community groups about the impact of domestic violence on the victims and their communities. We are in your schools educating children about alternatives to violence and abuse as they experience it: conflict, bullying and teen dating violence. We work every day to become an integral part of the essential underpinning of people working diligently to make our communities safe for everyone. If home isn’t a safe place – where in the world is?
Each victim/survivor is unique but their stories are eerily similar and our dedicated team of 3 full time and 6 part time staff strive to help each find hope by encouraging them to tell their story in their own words and time, to guide them through the criminal and domestic relations courts and offering they and their children a safe place to sleep and recover, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
What We Do
Intervention means the efforts to provide services for victims/survivors and their children to make them safer, whatever that means for their unique situation. Our services to this end include:
- 24-hr Hotline 937-498-7261: We are careful to listen to every detail of a victim/survivor’s story, answer any questions they have and work collaboratively with them to provide a customized plan to best assist them. This line is manned any hour of the day or night any day of the year for anyone who thinks they may be or is caught in an abusive relationship. The term “crisis” does not mean a person should wait until things have escalated before calling, call us right away, when the first thought of “is this abusive” enters your mind.
- Safety Planning: By far and away, our #1 job is to get people to consider and prepare for their safety. People living in abusive relationships often have complexities and prohibitions to their safety that need to be considered carefully and addressed. Whether remaining in the relationship or preparing to leave, we can customize a safety plan for both the adult and children.
- Safe, Emergency Shelter: Also available 24/7/365 our shelter is spacious, beautiful, comfortable and above all, safe. Each family gets their own bedroom with private bath and we have 2 separate living rooms, plenty of room for single persons or a family of any size. Children are more than welcome to shelter with their parent, we have tons of games, toys & movies. Our shelter is secured with 360º security cameras, and perimeter security featuring motion detection, glass break protection and electricity shutoff backup.
- Case Management: We work collaboratively with any client and their children, sheltered or not, to create a plan to enhance their safety, empower & enable them to live independently. This plan may include job skills training, employment, educational pursuits, medical and/or mental health care evaluation and care, family relationships, personal budgeting & finance and any other concerns or issues presented by the client. We do not dictate what anyone needs and do not do the work for the client, but rather teach them how to do for and promote themselves as the competent, confident people they are/can be.
- Court Advocacy: We have an advocate who is specially trained to assist clients through the criminal justice system as well as obtaining a Civil Protection Order through the civil courts. This includes assisting victims/survivors in obtaining a Temporary Protection Order, accompanying them at the arraignment, pretrial and all other related hearings to a Criminal charge on the abuser. We also assist with the completion and pursuit of Civil Protection Orders (otherwise referred to, incorrectly, as Restraining Orders). We are not attorneys, but are well versed in the Shelby County court system and are experienced to advocate with and for clients at any point in their process.
- Child Advocacy: Our Child Advocate is specially trained in the care and advocacy for children who witness or are secondary victims of domestic violence. Each child coming out of an abusive home has a different experience and a unique set of needs. The Child Advocate collaborates closely with the parent to assess each individual child’s needs and sets a plan for each child, advocating through the school system and local programs such as Help Me Grow, WIC, the Wee School, just to name a few.
- Resources & Referrals: Living in or leaving an abusive relationship requires a careful strategy and unique resources and referrals at each step in the process. We are dedicated to being and staying connected to all available resources in the communities of Shelby County that are in place to assist people in transition.
- Support & Support Groups: We dedicate ourselves to supporting each of our clients from their first call to their first year out of the relationship to 10 years later. Situations change, needs change, transition takes time, and as with many things, is often 1 step forward and 2 steps back. We are here to help keep the process of getting & staying safe moving forward.
We are currently also working to re-launch our support groups. Again, these aren’t just for those who come in with a bruise or scratch but for all persons who are in an abusive relationship. If you have questions about whether you may be, click here.
About Our Shelter
The word “shelter”, for most people, conjures up pretty awful images of cots lined up in a gymnasium or rows of bunk beds lined up in cramped rooms with bars on the windows and cockroaches crawling across the floor. Not our place. First of all, we prefer the term, Safe House, because that’s really all it is, a safe, peaceful place to come and get the help a victim/survivor of family abuse so deserves. Our facility is soft, warm & beautiful and our staff works very hard to keep each room and the grounds neat and clean. Each family or individual gets their own bedroom. We are equipped with cribs, port-a-cribs and trundle beds for the little ones. There are two living rooms, a fully stocked kitchen and pantry and lovely breakfast room. Other amenities include a playground and seating in the gardens outside and inside, an Xbox, a library of books and movies, toys and games tucked into every corner and as many things as we can provide to make each space feel as warm and inviting as possible.
A lot of people perceive a stigma with staying at a “women’s shelter” – but there is absolutely no stigma in coming to stay with friends, so please think of coming to stay with us like coming to stay with friends. Nearly all of the folks that work here have personal experience with family abuse/violence and are as welcoming and non-judgmental as possible. There is no stigma to going to the doctor when you’re sick and there should be absolutely no bad feelings about coming to stay with us if you aren’t safe at home.
While staying with us, we try to keep everything as normal as possible for each family. We can help you figure out how to get your kids to school, we keep cake mixes, frostings & candles for birthdays and will work with you to provide or arrange for provision any special needs or requests you may have for yourself or your children.
In addition to being spacious and lovely, it is also highly secured by Low Voltage Solutions with camera, alarm, motion & glass break detection and the response time by local law enforcement is outstanding.
Please click the thumbnails below to peek into a few of the rooms in our shelter:
About Our Staff
New Choices employs 3 full time and up to 10 part time staff to answer the call our clients and facility 24 hours a day. The full time staff include an Executive Director, the Child Advocate and Court Advocate and the part time staff are our Housemonitors. Each member of our staff is trained through on the job-training, job shadowing, training courses and resource review.
The Child Advocate works with the children who are in-shelter to help them express their thoughts and feelings about their experiences as well as help Mom assess the needs of and provide services for each of her children. The Child Advocate also works with Mom, if necessary, on non-violent disciplinary techniques, the necessity of schedule and routine, the value of positive reward and consistency and other methods to re-establish and re-define the family unit. In addition to these Intervention services, the Child Advocate plays a large role in our Prevention efforts by working with the Shelby County school systems to bring our Anti-Bullying and Teen Dating Violence Prevention Programs to the children of our communities. Bullying and use of abusive tactics in early dating relationships are often the first ways in which children express what they’ve learned about using abuse, intimidation, threats, humiliation against others to get what they want – to gain power and control. Educating children about the realities of being abusive, how to detect and report abuse helps us make inroads in our efforts to break the cycle of violence. Kids must learn these behaviors aren’t normal or acceptable.
The Court Advocate’s primary responsibility is to accompany victims/survivors through the court system, whether that means accompanying victims through the criminal justice system when charges are pending against their abuser, in obtaining a Temporary Protection Order via this process. In addition, the Court Advocate guides clients through the process of obtaining a Civil Protection Order in Domestic Relations Court. Though we are not attorneys, we are able to assist with filling out the necessary paperwork and understanding the process. The Court Advocate also works with clients in shelter to assess what goals they’d like to reach while in-shelter and then collaboratively works with each client to provide the resources and referrals necessary to make reaching those goals.
The Housemonitors answer our crisis hotline, work with our clients and their children to help them each reach their goals and address any needs and concerns during their stay, all while watching over and caring for the shelter. They also help tremendously with ad hoc projects that keep our entire team running smoothly so that we may provide the best possible services to our clients.
All of us are trained as Advocates and are capable of filling in for each other in all these roles; however, the person in each position is uniquely trained & specialized to their area of expertise.
If you like to ask a question of any of our staff, click here.
What We Believe
We firmly believe that home should NEVER be a scary or violent place – not for ANYONE, adults, kids or pets. Home should be the definition of peace and safety in the world, because if it’s not – where is? Home should be a sanctuary where people are treated equally and with respect and common decency. We believe that you should NOT find yourself being treated better by strangers on the street than by the people that live in your home and profess to “love” you. Love does not involve one partner getting power over the other by using abusive tactics, threats, humiliation, put downs, violence. People that love each other do not need to manipulate or control each other.
We believe that constantly calling the person you date is stalking, not love. A person who wants you to spend time only with them is not madly in love with you, they are trying to control you and separate you from people you care about and/or activities you may be interested in. We believe that love should look like this:
Each person in a relationship should retain their own beliefs, values, activities, friends, family, interests – it should only be the part in the middle – the relationship, that binds them together, where they share interests, friends, values, activities & the other things that define their relationship. Otherwise, they should retain who they are as individuals. Falling into each other, blending or changing all of what you are to be in the relationship creates a trap that can be very easy to fall into as you’re falling in love, but becomes a black hole with little light if and when you want to end it.
If your relationship feels like a black hole, with little hope and too much fear and/or pain, please call us at 937-498-7261.
How We Are Funded
New Choices is a private non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. As such, our funding comes from a variety of places, including grants from the Victims of Crime Act, State Victims Assistance Act, Family Violence Prevention through the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Office of Criminal Justice Services. In addition, we receive a portion of funds from Marriage Licenses and Costs Associated with any New Action or Proceeding for Annulment, Divorce, or Dissolution of Marriage, which is issued by the Shelby County Commissioners office, according to Ohio Revised Codes 3113.34 and 3113.35. We are also proudly an agency of the United Way of Shelby County. The balance of our operating budget comes from our Fundraisers, including the Spring Social/Charity Auction and the Take Back the Night 5K, as well as private contributions from the graciously generous individuals who live and work in Shelby County.
Because our funds are contingent on Federal and State budgeting decisions and are constantly in jeopardy. The acts that keep these grants funded are reviewed and renewed often. Please support us by keeping abreast of decisions regarding funding FVPSA, VAWA, VOCA and other acts that protect and defend violence against women and victims of crime.
If you are interested in supporting our efforts, click here.