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June 30, 2022

Walnut Avenue Family & Women’s Center—Love Shouldn’t Hurt

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On a quiet street, just blocks from our Goodles office here in Santa Cruz is a beautiful old welcoming building which is home to the Walnut Avenue Family & Women’s Center. For almost 90 years this organization has served women and families in the Santa Cruz area first as a YWCA in 1933 and renamed in 1994 ‘Walnut Avenue Women’s Center’ to refocus on serving more survivors of domestic violence. In 2015 they rebranded again to add Family to the name, reflecting values of: Empowerment, Equity, Integrity, Safety, Prevention & Education.

During our first experience visiting Walnut Avenue with some of our Goodles team we were greeted with hugs and homemade cookies. We explored the beautiful grounds of the Center including the playground for the pre-school, the private meeting rooms where survivors speak with certified advocates and the food pantry that provides weekly supplemental food provisions to participants in all their programs. We could feel the love that Walnut Avenue provides—a wraparound of family services which include an early education center; a food pantry; and a Housing & Employment program, finding sustainable, safe living situations for survivors of violence while helping them pay their rent for up to 18 months. They have a loving, caring and NO SHAME policy.  

Julie Macecevic, the Executive Director of Walnut Avenue is a licensed psychologist with a team of 29 (Advocates, Early Education Teachers, and support staff) plus volunteers dedicating time and energy to the cause with a mantra of “Love Shouldn’t Hurt”. Many of those that serve and volunteer have their own personal stories of relationship trauma. I learned from Julie that one in four women in the U.S. experience intimate partner violence or trauma*. Walnut Avenue Family & Women’s Center provides a safe place where survivors can receive supportive crisis intervention, seek respite and counseling, secure emergency accommodations, and get support with food, clothing and other basic needs while they safely plan with trained advocates. The intention is to break cycles of violence through safety, healing, individual empowerment, and social change. According to Julie, domestic violence is often passed down generationally. Some of their prevention work includes a team of youth advocates and prevention specialists providing Healthy Relationships workshops to Santa Cruz middle school and high school students, as well as parenting support for survivors who are parents. 

“The intention is to break cycles of violence through safety, healing, individual empowerment, and social change.”

Walnut Avenue also has parenting classes based on the Positive Discipline curriculum, and offers a specialized certification training twice annually to become a Certified Advocate for Survivors of Domestic Violence, which includes a state-mandated 40 hour curriculum. Volunteers receive the training in return for a commitment of one year volunteer work on the 24-hour hotline fielding phone calls from survivors and allies of survivors in need. 

Walnut Avenue’s Early Education Center is just blocks away from the main office, behind Santa Cruz High School. The only subsidized Early Education center in the city of Santa Cruz, the center provides high quality, bilingual English/Spanish early education & daycare for ages 0-5. They prioritize families who are low-income, survivors of family trauma, currently unhoused, and/or teen parents who are seeking to be employed, further their education or technical training and need childcare to take the next step in their life journey. Goodles will be providing donations of mac & cheese which will be added to the menu of nutritious meals served to the little ones during their care. 

Walnut Avenue is our neighbor and friend and a gooder organization that we will continue to support with ongoing boxes of Mac and cheese and other support and awareness.  

For more information and ways you can support Walnut Avenue visit:  

http://www.wafwc.org/ 

* https://ncadv.org/STATISTICS

For more information please visit:

IG: https://www.instagram.com/walnutavenue_center/ 

FB: https://www.facebook.com/WalnutAvenueWomensCenter/

TW: https://twitter.com/WalnutAvenue_SC

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