There are survivors living among us – “sheros” who have paved the way for females of all ages to escape abuse, find their voice and thrive again.
100+ Women Who Care Valley of the Sun recently met one of those women when they delivered $10,000 to the MonaLou Callery, executive director and founder of the National Advocacy & Training Network, a local nonprofit working to end violence against women and children.
Thirty-five years ago, MonaLou Callery was disfigured, beaten down and broken to her core after years of physical and mental abuse by her husband.
She tried to leave her husband, multiple times, and even relocated from Boston to Phoenix with her children.
Unfortunately, the court system made her move back to Boston so the visitation orders could be upheld. Eventually, when the children were old enough, she was able to permanently relocate to Arizona.
It was during this dark period of MonaLou’s life that she found her authentic self and life’s work.
In Arizona, MonaLou met other survivors, advocates and people in the community who wanted to make a difference. In 2002, she created the National Advocacy & Training Network.
A key program of this charity is their SEEDs (Support, Education, Empowerment and Direction) program, a transitional housing program to address the unmet needs of battered and sexually abused women in recovery, including female veterans and formerly incarcerated women.
The organization has three houses in the Phoenix Metro area where women can feel safe and begin their healing.
NATN differs from other shelters in that they work with women on co-occurring issues. Because of the domestic or sexual abuse, women will often turn to alcohol or other substances to cope with the trauma.
NATN will help them get their life back on track by allowing them to live in of their homes up to eighteen months. Most state-funded shelters only allow 30, 60 or 90 day stays and will ask you to leave for substance abuse violations.
MonaLou understands that it takes months, if not years, to put your life back together, especially when children are involved.
She educated herself on addiction and how to help the victims replace old habits with healthier ones.
Based on her experience with co-occurring issues, MonaLou is asked to speak to law enforcement, healthcare providers, community agencies and professional service agencies on this topic. She even spoke at Parliament!
It is important for individuals to understand how abuse is intertwined and cannot be treated in a silo.
As it has with many organizations, COVID-19 has impacted how NATN delivers their programs.
Their support groups are meeting online; some of the women in their homes have lost their jobs; and their Cup O’Karma community café had to close. Cup O’Karma was a job training, social venture program for youth, veterans, seniors and residents of their housing program.
They are in search of a new location once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
Thanks to Sheri Tapia, the nominating member who introduced this charity to 100+ Women Who Care, the charity will have the funds to support their homes.
“You have no idea how amazing this donation is at this time. Because of COVID, we have lost so many of our funders,” said MonaLou Callery.
“This donation will allow us to keep our homes open for at least three months. That is a long time to house 26 women. It could not have come at a better time.”
100+ Women Who Care Valley of the Sun meets quarterly and always welcomes guests who have a heart for giving.
Kim Tarnopolski is a member of the 100+ Women Who Care Valley of the Sun executive team.