I had heard of Northland Family Help Center (NFHC) before we decided to focus on them for Month 14, but I couldn’t have told you anything about the services they offer. Turns out, I’m probably not alone, and that’s not an accident. While they do some of the most important work in this community by helping victims of violence and abuse, they are committed to putting the safety of their clients first, and this means they can’t shout about it from the rooftops. The NFHC team mostly flies under the radar, giving those who are brave enough to escape an abusive situation the comfort of knowing they’ve found a safe place to land.
NFHC’s mission is “to provide safe haven, advocacy, counseling, and education to promote and restore healthy relationships.” Cristy and I were honored to meet with the Executive Director Aileen Fitz to learn more about their programs and services. Although they can’t share a lot about their story, we’re hoping you’ll be as inspired as we were (I texted Cristy 3.5 seconds after leaving and told her I wanted to write them a check for everything I own) to get involved.
Domestic Violence Shelter
The emergency shelter is a 24-bed secure facility that assists and supports individuals and their children escaping domestic violence and abuse and helps them reclaim control of their lives. This facility is consistently full and residents receive a tremendous amount of support in the form of counseling, advocacy, housing assistance, life skills, and a deeper understanding of the Cycle of Violence. Those who make their way to the NFHC shelter arrive under the most dire circumstances, and this facility and staff give them the tools to let the healing begin.
What if a car gets pulled over on I-40 and the adult is arrested on an outstanding warrant, but has a kid in the backseat? That child will most likely be sent to the NFHC Youth Center, a 15-bed facility that provides shelter, respite, and Trauma Informed Care Treatment for children up to age 18. The youth shelter also takes in Juvenile Probation kids, runaway homeless youth, and anyone needing a safe location. Cristy and I toured while the residents were at school, and we were simultaneously amazed at the warm, comforting space NFHC has created for these children, and saddened that it even needs to exist in the first place.
Last year, more than 450 individuals took advantage of NFHC’s free counseling for survivors of trauma. NFHC offers individual, family, and group sessions for residents of the shelters and community members who are victims of crime.
Prevention is obviously one of the most effective ways to curb violence in our community, and NFHC has developed several programs and curriculums aimed at people of all ages. Middle and high school students receive training in sexual violence prevention, and downtown Flagstaff bar staff are trained in the Arizona Safer Bars Alliance bystander sexual assault prevention.
Flagstaff Initiative Against Trafficking (FIAT)
This is NFHC’s newest initiative, but one that has nationwide implications. By establishing a local coalition of agencies and stakeholders, NFHC is leading the fight to identify human and sex trafficking in our community, and establishing protocols for how to respond to a victim.
Aileen shared with us that she is inspired by women in all levels of government who fight for family violence funding, especially during a time when much of this funding is in peril. “Family violence isn’t going away. It’s flourishing,” she shared with us. Let’s work together to turn that trend around and find ways we can all help organizations like NFHC.
How to Help:
Cash Donations: NFHC is part of the Flagstaff Tax Credit Coalition, so your donation can be matched dollar-for-dollar on your taxes. They rely on the government for 80 percent of their funding, and the availability of those funds is shrinking in our current political climate, so every dollar helps! Visit this link to donate today http://northlandfamily.org/give-to-nfhc/.
Stuff: Most people who come to the shelter only have the clothes on their backs, and the goal is for them to leave with more than they came with. Items like toiletries, clothing, blankets, and sheets are always appreciated. Larger household items are also needed, as securing housing is a critical step in the recovery process. Do you own a restaurant and need a place to donate excess food? While we were there, the staff was diligently sorting through a very generous donation from Wildflower Bread Company! To arrange donations, call 928.527.1700.
Volunteer: Due to the safety-sensitive nature of this work, NFHC does not take on regular volunteers. But, they are partnering with the fabulous Flagstaff Hullabaloo this summer as a fundraising opportunity and need to secure 50 event volunteers. You get an awesome t-shirt and you get to help out at Flagstaff’s most Flagstaff event. Call 928.527.1700 to find out more.
For more information about any of these opportunities, visit http://northlandfamily.org/.