In March, 80% of the women in Restore’s Economic Empowerment program lost their jobs. And today, many are still in the same position with no sustainable means for financial stability. While many Americans shifted to working remotely or applied for unemployment benefits, most of the women we serve at Restore didn’t have these options.
However, this is not the first time survivors have gone through challenges like this. We have seen that the women we serve are so resilient and strong — they are, perhaps, even more equipped for the aftereffects of a pandemic than most of the world.
Though the struggles can be overwhelming at times, we have seen women praise God for what they have and smile for another day. As the Manager of Client Services at Restore, my hope is that every woman we work with will have stability – in finances and work, in physical and mental safety, and in housing. When survivors are having a difficult day, I give them space to talk about it. Many women do not have opportunities to talk to someone about what they are going through because of their isolation due to the pandemic. So I listen and even sit with them in silence. I then encourage them by reminding them of everything they have accomplished so far and how far they can go. I tell them that they are not alone. Right now, we are all separated physically, but I reassure them that the Restore community is walking alongside them.
Through this time, I have seen an increase in survivors seeking counseling and case management services for their mental, physical, and emotional well-being. I have seen women strive to improve their English by taking online ESL classes. I have seen women pursue their entrepreneurial dreams and sign up for our virtual Supportive Services class to learn how to be ready for the new job market.
When I hear a survivor say that she is happy to now have more time with her children at home, I am encouraged by her positivity. When I hear that a woman’s visa has been approved, I am overjoyed. When I hear about a woman getting a new job through our workers-owned cooperative, I am hopeful. And when I hear a woman deciding to go back to school to advance her career, I am encouraged by her continued strength and perseverance.
As the pandemic continues, the reality is that some survivors are still struggling to afford their rent and keep from being evicted from their homes. Some are struggling to feed their families. Others are struggling to send money to their families abroad. And some are struggling with the new lifestyle of being a working mom and taking care of their children by themselves. That is why the COVID-19 Relief & Stabilization Fund, 100% of which goes directly to survivors as emergency cash assistance, is so critical for the women we serve. This support lifts a heavy burden off of women’s shoulders and gives them breathing room as they strive to reach stability and freedom.
Manager of Client Services