The only shelter for victims of domestic violence in Nash and Edgecombe counties is celebrating 40 years of lifesaving activism in the area.
Leaders of My Sister’s House say the celebration comes because COVID-19 has put survivors at greater risk than ever before.
Before this nonprofit opened, victims in the Rocky Mount area suffered in silence — with no obvious way to leave the abused home.
“It’s like an underground operation that’s not formalized,” said My Sister’s House CEO Emily Lemus. “You have to know someone who knows someone and get help along the way.”
In the decades since, My Sister’s House has launched a 24-hour crisis line and a 16-bed shelter in Rocky Mount at an undisclosed location to the public.
The service has also expanded from just domestic violence to sexual assault and outreach to human trafficking.
The community needs every bit of those services, Lemus said, because the past year and a half has strained families more than ever.
“COVID has changed everything for everyone, I think it is fair to say, on a large scale,” Lemus said. “Especially as the stay-at-home order went in, we saw a dramatic increase in crisis calls and the need for a protective order, because people couldn’t get away from the beaters. surname.”
My Sister’s House has also ramped up service in their pantry, with more than 100,000 meals served as hunger spikes during the pandemic.
At the same time, the donations they depended on were affected, prompting the nonprofit to secure federal loans to keep the opportunity open.
“Having been here for so long, people take it for granted that we’ll be here,” Lemus said. “There have been a few dealerships across the state that have closed in the last couple of years, and they’ve been around as long as we have.”
But My Sister’s House still exists – like the people who have sought refuge there for the past 40 years.
They fuel their communities, guided by success stories that make the struggle worthwhile.
“We literally get phone calls and Christmas cards saying, ‘you saved my life,’” Lemus said. people’s lives, and it really makes a difference.”
“I think the work that we do has saved many lives,” she continued.
My Sister’s House accepts online donations at MSHNC.org.