A CEO’s reflection: Life is beyond precious

By Kristin Shrimplin
This week, I sat down to write what is usually an update on our agency’s work and I realized there simply hasn’t been much quality time for “reflection” or stillness of thought. It truly has been over 8 weeks of constant pivoting, re-structuring and redesigning. But yesterday I realized there’s one thought keeps surfacing and that thought drives our actions at WHW. It’s a simple statement.
Life is Beyond Precious. And in that life, everyone deserves a chance to not only survive, but to thrive. Life, can be cut incredibly short–and even when the years span on, life can become exceedingly difficult. All people deserve peace, serenity, and tranquility. All people deserve safety. Access to resources. Access to support. All people deserve love and compassion.
Survivors come to our agency fully engulfed in an experience and a life where love and compassion, safety and resources, peace, serenity and tranquility have not been their reality. Their reality has been disrupted intensely and purposely. For many of the clients that we serve, their realities were grossly disrupted at very young ages and the trajectory of meeting further disruptions and roadblocks continued. Imagine that, a disruption to safety without an interruption by others to help.
Collectively due to COVID-19, we have all now been going through two months of disruption to our daily lives and it has been overwhelming. But ultimately, we hope that there is an end in sight or at least a pause before the second wave. Many in our region are able to make plans for Memorial Day and begin to get back to the salons, barber shops, restaurants, and breweries. There’s a path to “restarting”. There’s a pathway to navigating the immense reality and stress of the COVID-19 disruption.
But do survivors have that same option? They were already experiencing a public health epidemic–gender-based violence. With a pandemic on top of it—safety and resources are even farther removed from survivors. For some, I am very sad to say, life was lost in our city in the month of April do to domestic violence homicide. COVID-19 compromised systems of support and “shelter-at-home” orders increased danger for our clients.
And so, in the midst of the chaos, we are reminded: Life is Beyond Precious.
WHW is in a privileged position to respond to making life better for our region. COVID didn’t stop us and won’t stop us. We are here to help–whether with our on-scene advocates who collaborate with the police (DVERT), or our 24/7 hotline with it’s new text and chat feature. Or whether through the 8 weekly support groups that we host virtually or the courtroom accompaniment and hospital accompaniment services that we provide. We are here to help and here to offer safety, support, resources, and yes, compassion and connection. We must disrupt a growing public health epidemic. We will keep standing by their side in the courtroom, at the crime scene, in the hospital, or on the campus and let them know that they are not alone. We may being wearing masks for a while as we do all of that–but that is the only thing that has changed. We won’t stop, can’t stop, because frankly, survivors, never get that option.
Thank you for supporting our mission. And for standing by survivors and acknowledging, that human life is beyond precious. No more victimization. No more domestic violence homicides. No more isolation of survivors in their homes. We are truly in this together. And surely, if we can all unite against a pandemic—we can unite against gender-based violence.
Shrimplin is president & CEO of Women Helping Women
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