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Read our latest newsletter: February 2017.

Hope and Healing Makes Most of 'Jane Doe' Grants

LOWELL -- While $1,000 may be taken for granted by some, for many it opens the door to financial security and independence.

For sexual assault and domestic violence survivors, Jane Doe Inc.'s Economic Empowerment grants have been changing the lives of survivors for years.

This year, two survivors associated with Lowell's The Center for Hope and Healing Inc. were among the 10 grant recipients who will get a jump start on their goals.

Diana Mancera is the director of Membership and Programs at JDI, the Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence. Mancera said its 57 member programs are eligible to apply for up to three survivors in their program. The grants are meant to allow its recipients to pursue their entrepreneurial, education or certification goals. Mancera said these types of grants are important, especially for those who have dealt with sexual assault or domestic violence.

"For people who may have had to flee their homes because the situation was so dangerous at the time, they left with nothing and now, to see what $1,000 can do for them -- it's just amazing to hear their stories," Mancera said. "A lot of them have been in control under this particular person who has been abusing them, maybe not physically, but using their finances to keep them in control."

One Center for Hope and Healing grant recipient is an award-winning photographer looking to build this passion into a career.

Without family support, they are transitioning to independent living. The grant money will help to purchase camera equipment for their career.

The other recipient will use the grant money for a Nursing Assistant and Home Health Aid Certificate to become financially stable. This survivor lives in a shelter with their children and has endured health and financial issues since leaving their abusive environment. This survivor was a trained nurse in their native country.

JDI awarded 10 $1,000 grants this year to survivors from nine different organizations. This year they received 40 applications from 30 to 35 different programs. JDI has awarded 75 grants to survivors across the commonwealth totaling $60,000 since the program launched in partnership with The Allstate Foundation in 2012. Applicants have the opportunity to apply for grants worth $100 to $1,000.

"In the U.S., everything you do is around your credit score. Renting a place, buying a house, even getting a job sometimes, it's about how good or not good you are around finances," Mancera said.

Unfortunately, for a number of survivors of sexual assault or domestic violence, finances can get impacted very negatively. Mancera said, some who leave where they live are sometimes faced with opening their first bank account. Financial factors can play a key role in a survivor's decision to stay, leave or even return to an abusive relationship.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 43.9 percent of women, 23.4 percent of men and 47 percent of transgender people have reported experiencing sexual violence in their lifetime. In Massachusetts, one in three women and one in five men reported being a victim of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in their life, according to JDI.

Many of JDI's partner programs do not have the funds to support these type of needs for survivors, and that is where they can step in.

"We are very supportive of the work that our member programs do and this is just one way we support them," she said. "We are so appreciative of the knowledge and the expertise and the hard work they have to do everyday with survivors and we want to let them know they are not alone doing this work."

For more information on Jane Doe Inc., visit www.janedoe.org.

For more information on the Center for Hope and Healing, visit www.chhinc.org.

Follow Kori Tuitt on Twitter @KoriTuitt.

Read more: http://www.lowellsun.com/news/ci_32089271/hope-and-healing-makes-most-jane-doe-grants#ixzz5P1Jwfr4X


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