ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Some of the most hurt by the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis are non-for-profits in Rochester.

Inspired by the partnership between United Way of Greater Rochester and the Rochester Area Community foundation, News 8 is producing a series of stories showing what a different non-profit does, how the crisis affects them, and how people can help.

The United Way has launched the “Community Crisis Fund,” to allow rapid deployment of resources to help non-profits impacted by the virus outbreak.

Willow Domestic Violence Center is a support and advocacy group for survivors of domestic violence. All of their services are free and confidential.

According to their website:

Our Mission is to prevent domestic violence and ensure every survivor has access to the services and supports needed along the journey to a safe and empowered life.

Our Vision is a community free from domestic violence, where healthy relationships thrive.

We spoke with president and CEO of Willow Meaghan de Chateauvieux. She’s been involved in the organization for seven years, and said it’s a dream come true to “sit in this seat.”

De Chatueavieux is fighting through any doubt she may have during these trying times, because she knows she’s surrounded by a good team.

“It’s been challenging,” she said. “But it’s been amazing to see the community rally around us and provide the supports that they need.”

She says she’s powered by a lifelong sense of social justice.

“I feel that it’s so important to do anything we possibly can to help those in the community with the highest need,” she said. “I’m also an ‘ex-lennial,’ so I need that instant gratification, and I get from knowing that our work saves lives.”

What do you do?

“Willow is a licensed provider of residential and non-residential domestic violence services in Rochester,” de Chateauvieux said. “And chances are its happened to someone close to you,”

She says domestic violences affects one in four men and one in three women, and dating violence affects one in five.

Among the services they provide:

  • Willow maintains a 49-bed shelter
  • A 24/7 hotline at 585-222-SAFE (7233)
  • A text line at 585-348-SAFE
  • Court advocates to help with protection orders
  • Lock changes
  • Pet support program

They have a team of advocates that support survivors “on their journey to safety.” The advocates also work to foster the survivors’ sense of empowerment and self-sufficiency.

Willow is also partnered a number of community agencies. They’re on site at URMC through the (HEAL) Collaborative, to help with anyone who is in the hospital as a result of domestic violence, and to help set up Skype meetings with legal help.

“An agency, we’ve grown over the past several years, to be out there as much as possible, to find ourselves in space like this where we’re suddenly pulling it all back, and paring down to the essential services has been such an interesting challenge for us,” she said. “We’ve been so flexible to have a flexible and nimble team.”

How has the crisis affected you?

Right now, a lot of their services were typically handled face to face, but now they have to handled over the phone.

“The difficulty that we’re really going to see is the hotline,” she said.

De Chateauvieux says there was a huge spike the Monday after St. Patrick’s Day, especially after the press conference, many of them with the same concern:

“‘Oh no, I’m going to be forced to stay at home with my abuser right next to me on the couch,” she said.

People were calling and looking for options, and advocates can still help over the phone with those concerns. They can call 911 if needed, and set up counseling over the phone.

Courts are shutdown, which makes appearances difficult, even if officers and judges are there. They can prepare for these hearings, but that only goes so far.

“But we’re not there to walk through with people,” she said.”Now they’re own.”

And especially now more than ever, she’s encouraging people to make safety plans.

“Set up code words with a friend, check in at a regular time,” she said. “And if you have any concerns for someone you know, this is a great excuse to check in.”

What can people to do help?

They have a wishlist on their website, https://willowcenterny.org/help-out/wish-list/. Here are their urgent needs:

  • Lysol disinfectant spray
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Gloves
  • Face masks
  • Thermometers
  • Paper towels
  • Toilet paper
  • Facial tissues
  • NEW Take-out containers to deliver meals to shelter residents

De Chateauvieux is also asking for any toys, games, or anything else to help keep people occupied during this time.