Two local nonprofits are working together to help survivors of domestic abuse.
Karen VanDeCasteele started Humble Dwellings three years ago.
It furnishes homes for women who can’t afford it.
This year the organization joined Argrow’s House of Healing and Hope.
It helps women recover from violence and abuse.
Now, the two groups are helping women in more ways.
One abuse survivor says the home-makeovers are more than just physical transformations, hey’re an invaluable part of the healing process.
“Our ministry helps make a house a home,” VanDeCasteele says.
She and her team have done something as simple as donate a few pieces of furniture, to completely renovate homes.
“We just don’t come in and bring furniture. We decorate, we hang curtains, we do the art work, we really try to make it nice and comfortable and live-able,” VanDeCasteele says.
This summer, they’re projects have been different.
They are part of a partnership with Argrow’s House.
“We saw an article in the paper. It kind of peaked our interest as to we can maybe help these women. So we reached out to her and we met and she gave me four names of survivors that we might be able to assist,” VanDeCasteele says.
“I was getting out of a domestic violence situation. Some of that revolved around financial abuse. When I started over I didn’t have access to any accounts anymore, I didn’t have really anything. I left the house and through the divorce with essentially, minimal– As long as I could get away,” says Alexandria Andrews, the first survivor-employee of Argrow’s House.
Andrews was the first participant selected for a home renovation through the partnership.
“I was actually really nervous at first. I remember sitting in the car with one of my friends and I was like, ‘What happens if I walk in and I hate it?’ You know, I’m joking but it was completely the opposite of that. It was beautiful, it was breathtaking,” Andrews says.
As the team fixes smashed counters, sweeps away debris and scrubs graffiti left by another abuser, Andrews says the impact of it all goes beyond the surface.
“Huge relief for you during your transition. It makes you feel accomplished, it makes you feel safe,” she says.
An impact that VanDeCasteele feels, too.
“Their faces, their expressions, disbelief– sometimes they don’t know what to expect they’re so overwhelmed. So that is very rewarding to see, that we have really made a difference,” she says.
Humble Dwellings has helped 14 families so far, seven just this year.
VanDeCasteele says her non-profit wouldn’t be possible without community support, from volunteers like those from the Knights of Columbus to businesses like Mike’s Floorpro.