The following appeared as a guest column in the Wichita Eagle on Oct. 6, 2017, during Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Watch the video: Wichita WIN Executive Director Karen Schmidt speaks about Domestic Violence Awareness Month (Oct. 1-31) at Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell’s media briefing.
Wichita WIN Executive Director Karen Schmidt was a guest on KAKE TV-10 news Oct. 3, to discuss Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Oct. 1-31, and WIN’s 20th anniversary celebration events on Oct. 13, which include a 10 a.m. open house at the WIN offices, and the 6:30 p.m. Wichita WIN Platinum 20th Anniversary Celebration fundraiser at the Wichita Boathouse.
Wichita WIN has accepted a new contract project for program participants: sewing Velcro straps for Retractapad retractable foam knee pads, a new product manufactured in Wichita.
Contract project work, such as this, provides participants with work experience while helping provide program funds.
As part of the WIN program, participants receive a salary for 20 hours each week, during which they perform work projects and attend group and individual therapy, life and job skills classes, meet with their tutors or professional mentors.
Other ongoing work projects include:
- Programing and assembling components for Filimin Wi-Fi enabled lamps
- Making hand-dipped pretzels, sold by area retailers and through WIN
We are always seeking additional short-term or long-term project work that can be done at the WIN facilities by our participants. Send work proposals to Amber Beck, 262-3960.
Shenike was looking for something new when she left Texas to join friends living in northern Wisconsin. She quickly settled into that new home, finding work as a waitress. And in no time, she found a doting boyfriend, who immediately began showering her with kind words and gifts.
The relationship moved “real fast,” but within a month of moving in with her, he turned from doting to controlling and abusive. He falsely accused her of cheating on him with one of her restaurant co-workers.
“I ended up with black eyes,” she says. “Then he’d buy me makeup to cover up my bruises.”
Her co-workers and neighbors noticed the bruises and tried to get her help, urging her to call the police.
Finally, Shenike told him she was leaving. He responded by throwing her to the ground and beating her with her own shoe. Then he grabbed her keys and stole her car.
Shinike packed a bag and caught the next bus for Wichita, where she had family. She was referred to WIN for help getting on her feet in the new city.
“WIN was my stepping stone,” she says. “They helped me find an apartment, taught me how to manage my money, and encouraged me to enroll in training to become a certified nursing assistant.”
But more than that, they taught her to spot the warning signs that a relationship may turn abusive, and that “I needed to love myself before looking for love in someone else.”
Now graduated from the WIN program, she is working as a CNA and studying at Butler Community College to become a registered nurse. And, she’s happily married to a “very sweet man” who encourages her, worries about her, and cooks for her.
“But I do the dishes!” she adds with a laugh.
Shinike says she likes the changes she’s seeing in herself as a result of the WIN program.
“I’m happy now, and I’m not scared to ask for help if I need it,” she says. “My family is happy for me, too. They tell me all the time that they’re proud of me!”
Wichita Women’s Initiative Network has been awarded a grant of $3,500 from Wichita Community Foundation, to develop a long-range strategic plan. The grant is supported by Magnify, a strategic initiative of the Wichita Community Foundation.
Wichita WIN’s strategic planning process will be facilitated by Wichita State University Community Engagement Institute, Center for Organizational Development and Collaboration (CODC).