When little Layla arrived at shelter with her mom, she was in an above average state of personal crisis. Mom remembered her favorite clothes, like her princess pajamas, but forgot her lovey: a light brown bear that Layla believed kept her safe from scary things.
Fortunately, Layla’s advocate was able to provide her with another beautiful bear, and it brought Layla great comfort. As she and mom stayed at shelter and received services, like counseling to heal from the domestic violence they’d experienced, Layla’s bear buddy was always her close-by companion.
After six weeks, Layla and her mom were ready to leave shelter. Mom had secured housing, and the two were headed out for a safe and satisfying future; however, Layla had something to do first. She gave her bear back to her advocate. She said she wanted the next little girl or boy to have it because she felt safe, and she didn’t need it anymore.
Thank you to our supporters for helping to provide Layla and her mom, Leslie, with a brand-new, no-bears-required beginning.
It was the fast pace of shelter life that first attracted Shirley Adonis to Hubbard House.
“I was a junior in college completing training to become an On-Call Advocate for the Women’s Center at the University of North Florida,” said Shirley. “Part of that training was a tour of Hubbard House. I remember walking past the hotline room … Multiple lines were ringing. Doors and gates were going off. Participants were at the door. The person working there at the time was completely calm, addressing one thing after another. I thought to myself, I want to do that.” And, she did.
Initially, Shirley worked in the Shelter. After two years, she moved to a position in Court Advocacy. Today, she serves on the Intimate Violence Enhanced Services Team (InVEST)* as the InVEST Victim Advocate. She starts her day at the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) where she and other team members review domestic violence police reports looking for high lethality indicators, i.e. strangulation, loss of consciousness, weapons, etc. Then, she returns to her Hubbard House office and proactively reaches out to the victims judged to be in the greatest danger.
“What I love most about my current position is it’s structured around a Hubbard House advocate reaching out to provide services as opposed to the survivor reaching out. It still baffles me how many people don’t know what Hubbard House is and what we do,” said Shirley. Some victims opt to receive shelter and services immediately; however, even when a victim isn’t ready, Shirley takes satisfaction in knowing that she’s planted a life-saving seed and the victim knows where to turn when s/he is ready to take the next step.
Of course, sometimes working with victims who’ve experienced extreme violence takes a toll, so Shirley works a self-care plan that relies on people; namely, she surrounds herself with positive people in her personal life and leans on her Hubbard House family – supervisors and fellow advocates – for support at work. Shirley explains that no one understand the pressures or pleasures of doing the work like fellow advocates, and no one understands better the driving force behind the work they do: to always be the best for survivors.
*The Intimate Violence Enhanced Services Team (InVEST) program is a partnership with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and the City of Jacksonville. Daily, a Hubbard House advocate, a detective and a city employee review domestic violence police reports, evaluate cases for lethal indicators and proactively contact the victims to offer services. The program has been credited with reducing intimate partner homicides in Duval County and has been replicated statewide.