LAHAINA - Women Helping Women's outreach on the West Side has a new advocate.
Jane Emery recently joined the lifesaving organization as the West Maui services coordinator.
Her role is vital to our isolated community: to champion Women Helping Women's mission "to end domestic violence through advocacy, education and prevention; and to offer safety, support and empowerment to women and children, victims of domestic violence."
"Women Helping Women has been providing services to victims of domestic violence on Maui since 1977 and on Lanai since 1997," said Executive Director Stacey Moniz.
In 2004, the West Maui Domestic Violence Task Force (WMDVTF) was created, Moniz explained.
Initial members were (former) County Council member Jo Anne Johnson, Senator Roz Baker, hotel security, business members, church community and other nonprofit agencies.
"Through monthly WMDVTF meetings, we learned that West Maui wanted a center on the West Side, where victims could come and get services without having to go over to the other side," she said.
"With the help and support of this community, we were able to obtain funding through the state Grant in Aid and opened the existing office in July 2006."
Fifth District Sen. Baker has been a supporter of Women Helping Women "for a very long time advocating for more funding for shelters, anger management programs and awareness," she said.
She stressed the significance of the West Side outreach.
"It is so important that we have services available on this side. We're a long way from the shelter and service providers on the other side. We need a place to help victims and get them to services. We need a focal point for organizing awareness and program support," she said.
"Each community," Baker continued, "needs to be part of empowering its residents."
Maui Police Department statistics from Jan. 1 through Aug. 31, 2012 document the need for support services.
There were 535 charges for abuse incidents in the Lahaina District, including, but not limited to, warning citations (seven), family or household interventions (278), physical abuse with no injury (106), physical abuse with injury (64), felony abuse-strangulation (13), violations of orders for protection (24) and violations of temporary restraining orders (six).
Lahaina office hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
"The location of the office is kept confidential due to the nature of the work that we do, but the number, 661-7111, will connect people with our center," Moniz noted.
Another critical service is offered.
"We are able to help women get TROs (Temporary Restraining Orders) without having to drive to Wailuku to file them, and we can use the fax machine to expedite the process. It's very effective, and we do approximately three or four TROs each month on the West Side," she said.
Emery is well-suited for her part-time position as an advocate to lessen the terror of domestic savagery on the West Side.
Her goal, she said, is to help the victims "better their lives, change their lives and help them see that going around in that vicious circle isn't working for them; help them to figure out what does work for them in their lives and help them lead happier, more productive lives.
"That, in itself, is a real blessing," she said.
"I get a lot of satisfaction out of helping someone; helping their children become better people and better adults in society instead of draining society," she added.
Emery is well-qualified for the challenge. She worked for Monterey County in California for 29-and-a-half years in the social services and human resources divisions.
"She has a great social work background," Moniz added.
Additionally, Emery is bilingual. She speaks English and Spanish.
Baker considers this a bonus skill.
"We have a growing Spanish-speaking population here, and unfortunately that community isn't immune from domestic violence," she said.
Moniz echoed Baker's sentiments: "This is really important as we are trying to do outreach into the Latino community in West Maui, because we've had more victims coming forward from that community in recent years."
Community education is critical to Emery.
"I think getting the word out that someone will be there, and let people know if they ever need the help that they can call," she said.
"They will be able to get their needs met quicker, and hopefully you save their lives and their children's lives; and that is what it's all about, right?"
We can have someone pick them up. We have a van or taxi that will provide transportation to the shelter located on the other side," Emery added.
WHW can help them develop a plan on how to escape, she added.
Moniz described Emery's character as "very community-minded."
Emery moved to Maui in 2008, and it didn't take long for the retired 61-year-old to get involved.
She is a member of the Kihei Sunrise Rotary Club.
"Last year I was president; this year I'm Club Service organizer," Emery said.
This experience will bode well for the community nonprofit.
Emery's first opportunity to "get the word out" and raise money will be in late October.
Moniz announced, "We will be holding West Maui's first 'Walk a Mile in Her Shoes' event on Friday, October 26, at 4:30 at the Lahaina Gateway Center.
"Walk A Mile is a men's march against violence against women in high heels! It's said that one cannot truly appreciate another's life until they walk a mile in their shoes.
"Men, here is your chance to march against violence against women and wear those fancy, yet painful, shoes women wear every day," Moniz challenged
"To become an event sponsor and for more information, please call our Lahaina office," she added.
According to Emery, "domestic violence is defined by physical harm, bodily injury or assault, or the threat of imminent physical harm, bodily injury or assault, or extreme psychological abuse or malicious property damage between family or household members."
"It can happen to anyone, anywhere," she added.
The 24-hour hotline is available at 579-9581. All services are free and confidential.