We have two episodes for you this week. Why? Because listeners like you have been very good at suggesting topics for the show.
This week, Kate Nickel of Friends, Inc. joins me to talk about Sexual Assault Awareness Month and how Friends, Inc. is raising awareness in Washington County, Wis.
- Denim Day - Learn more about Denim Day (April 27, 2022), a day when people where denim to raise awareness and support survivors of sexual violence.
- Friends, Inc. on Facebook
- Friends, Inc. on Instagram
- FRIENDS, Inc. | Domestic & Sexual Violence | United States - Home page of Friends, Inc., provider of shelter and support services for individuals affected by domestic violence and sexual assault in Washington County, Wisconsin.
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Fuzz Martin 0:08
Hey didn't I just talk to you a few days ago. Yes. Yes, I did. Welcome to a special bonus episode of 15 Minutes with Fuzz. This makes up for a few weeks ago when I cheated in did a show called Show Updates. Just my way of getting around the system. Someone reached out and asked if I could speak with today's guest about Sexual Assault Awareness Month. However, I had already worked ahead and I have a number of episodes ready to go for the coming weeks. But this is a worthy cause. So I'm going to just sneak right past ya and drop another episode this week.
Today's guest is Kate nickel. She is the executive director of Friends, Inc. They're the sole provider of shelter and support services for individuals affected by domestic violence and sexual assault in Washington County, Wisconsin. As I mentioned, April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. And Friends has a lot of things going on this month to create awareness about sexual assault in order to reduce how often it happens. And with that, here are 15 minutes on Sexual Assault Awareness Month with Kate nickel of Friends Inc. on 15 minutes with Fuzz.
I can't I appreciate you coming in to talk about Friends, Inc. Today Friends has been around for around in Washington County for more than four decades. So how does Friends serve those in need in our community?
Kate Nickel 1:42
Hi, thanks so much for having me. It's really great to be able to hear a chat with you and reach out to the community. So Friends, yes, as you said has been around for four decades, and we focus on working with survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. And that certainly also includes child abuse, and then also human trafficking survivors.
Fuzz Martin 1:59
Okay, and you're located here in West Bend. Right?
Kate Nickel 2:01
We are Yeah, we actually went public a few years ago for our 40th anniversary. Okay, so we are right down on South 18th Avenue in West Bend.
Fuzz Martin 2:08
For a long time that had been kind of a secret location, right or correct?
Kate Nickel 2:12
Yes, we were strictly confidential as many organizations like ours, some still are. But we we made that decision to go public with our 40th anniversary, I think for a couple different reasons. One, we really have tremendous community support, and so wanted to kind of acknowledge that community support. And then I think also, more importantly, we wanted to make sure that survivors knew where to find us, right, that this is something that happens in our community happens in our communities. And so if someone needed services, they could easily easily locate us.
Fuzz Martin 2:39
Yeah, certainly that makes sense. How did Friends get it start?
Kate Nickel 2:43
Yes. So Friends was initially started in 1978. And it was through for local women started the organization. And at the very, very beginning, the main goals, were having a hotline, and then they also did shelter. But they did it in community homes and churches and hotels. And brands had its first actual building in 1986. So wow, first building wasn't until 86. Over in Barton and then we got our current location that we're in in 1988.
Fuzz Martin 3:11
Oh, wow. Okay. Yeah. Great. And then that's a really remarkable kind of way that they did that kind of bootstrap their way up and helped women however, they couldn't families, however they could.
Kate Nickel 3:20
Yeah, I mean, that's that grassroots approach, right. Many organizations like ours were started like that, by some concerned citizens is really trying to figure out a way to help those in need.
Fuzz Martin 3:28
A lot of people think of Friends as a shelter, but you guys offer a lot more programs and assistance than that. So what are some of the programs that Friends offers?
Kate Nickel 3:36
Sure. I really like to explain Friends and kind of a three tiered approach. Okay, so I think that first tier is what most people always think about when they hear Friends, they think about domestic bounce, and they think about that emergency shelter, that crisis line. And so certainly, those are our core services, right? That's what started at the beginning. And so we still have those today. And on average, I would say we house about 1000, or excuse me about 100 individuals annually within the shelter, and then we answer about 1000 crisis calls. Okay, so that's that kind of first tier emergency support. And then the second tier is all of our outreach services. And so that's where someone can access anything from individual advocacy to support groups to legal services, whether that's an emergency restraining order or family law needs. We have a children's therapist, so someone could come in and bring their kiddos into work with a therapist. We have an extended housing program. So we have transitional living, and all of those kinds of like community outreach services are available to someone staying in shelter or not. And that's where we work actually with the majority of our population. So we serve about 275 individuals annually amongst those programs.
Fuzz Martin 4:40
That tier two kind of level or that part two, right?
Kate Nickel 4:43
Yes, yes. And then the third tier is the education and outreach. So that's where we're getting out in the community. We're trying to break the cycle. We're trying to bring that awareness we're trying to educate about healthy relationships, unhealthy relationships, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and I would say pre COVID. Typically when we were at a label to be In the schools a lot more, we actually would serve about 7000 individuals annually with about 250 presentations. The last two years, we've been in about 60 to 65% of that. So there'll be about 4000 individuals, and about 125 presentations.
Fuzz Martin 5:15
How many people work at Friends? What's that organization?
Kate Nickel 5:19
Sure. So the staff is 15 staff. So we have 15, full time staff. And then we also have a board of directors, our board of directors currently is at 13. Okay, and then we have about 40 volunteers.
Fuzz Martin 5:29
Well, okay, serving that many people I'm sure takes a lot of hard work and effort and volunteers and such. So I was curious how you serve that many people with what I assumed was an even smaller group than that. So
Kate Nickel 5:38
yeah, we've been able to expand, so we haven't always had 15 staff.
Fuzz Martin 5:43
Well, that's great. Yeah. It's great that you've been able to expand, it's unfortunate that you've had to be have had to expand, if someone is in need of help, how do they get connected with Friends?
Kate Nickel 5:54
Sure. So a variety of ways, whatever, it's kind of comfortable for them. So we do obviously have the 24/7 hotline, the hotline is anonymous, I think that's a really good kind of piece to share out there. So for instance, if it's someone who's a minor, right, and they have questions, or they want to kind of get some answers, that's a way that they can connect with us, or even just an adult that maybe isn't ready to take a next step, but really wants to be able to talk to an advocate and just kind of process or be able to discuss what they're experiencing. So certainly the hotline, that number is 262-334-7298. Okay, and then also through social media, right? So we have Facebook, Instagram, the website, all of those are ways to connect with us as well.
Fuzz Martin 6:30
You've been at Friends for a number of years. But well, first of all, how long have you been at Friends?
Kate Nickel 6:34
So I've been at a Friends since 2004.
Fuzz Martin 6:37
Okay, well, all right. A good long time. And but you haven't always you're the executive director now. But you haven't always been the executive director. So how did you first start working with Friends?
Kate Nickel 6:48
Sure. Yeah. So when I came on, when I joined Friends, the team in 2004, actually came on as the shelter manager. Okay. So for about the first 10 years that I was at Friends, I did direct service. So I oversaw the shelter, I did case management, I did a weekly support group, right. So I did all of that kind of direct service work. And then I transitioned a little bit. And for about four years, I had two different roles. One was kind of a program management. So I kind of oversaw the program development, started supervising staff, and then slowly started to take on some additional financial responsibilities and kind of grants and things like that.
Fuzz Martin 7:21
Over those years that you've been here, how has Friends changed?
Kate Nickel 7:24
Ah, so Friends has been right. I mean, it's a long time. It's 18 years. So the Friends certainly has grown and changed, I think, I guess a couple of different things come to mind. One is certainly the growth that we've had in the community. And so I think of that twofold. So one is just the support and the awareness of kind of who we are, and whether that's monetary in kind volunteers, right, that just that connection from the community. And then I think also our partners, right? This is something that we can't do alone, right? So we rely heavily on anything from law enforcement and the district attorney's office to the child advocacy center. I know you had Heidi Kilbourne here recently. So we partner with them workforce development, human services, right, all of those entities, we all need to have a wraparound approach, right? Because abuse doesn't happen in silo. Sure. So there's, there's gonna be other needs that that family also may or may need to get connected with.
Fuzz Martin 8:10
Oh, we're glad that you're here and doing that. And speaking of these programs in such April as sexual abuse awareness month, right, yep. And Fred's has a number of community events lined up to help inform the public about sexual assault. Tell us about what you guys have going on. During April here.
Kate Nickel 8:27
Yeah, so we have a lot of things going on. We really enjoy the two Awareness month that we do each year, that kind of the bigger ones. So April for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and then October for Domestic Violence Awareness Month. And so in April, a couple of our kind of standbys that we've established. One is that we always acknowledge Denim Day, and we have denim downtown West Bend. And so Denim Day is on Wednesday, the 27th. And so we ask community members or anyone to wear denim in support of sexual assault survivors, you can take a picture and tag it on social media. And then that whole two week period, we'll also have denim hanging downtown. The denim is decorated by survivors with with messages from, from their experiences. And just to give a little kind of recap of what of what Denim Day is. And so how that was established is in 1992, an 18 year old was sexually assaulted by her driving instructor. The person was charged with rape and then later appealed, and the Italian Supreme Court overturned that ruling, basically saying that the woman's genes were too tight, and that if she had to help take them off that it had to be consensual wasn't rape. Oh my gosh. And so then the next day, all the women of the Italian Supreme Court, where do you wear jeans? Okay, and so that is where Denim Day was established. And we do that annually every year in support a survivor,
Fuzz Martin 9:37
I had heard about that. I told my wife about this interview that we're going to do and she's like, oh, yeah, denim day. We do that at school. And so it's good that you guys have that out there. And you said denim will be hanging in West Bend.
Kate Nickel 9:48
Yeah. So it'll be downtown West Bend. Yep. So it hangs all down Main Street off of the flagpole. Sure. And then a couple other things that we do every Tuesday is till Tuesday. So you can wear your teal or record teal and again, take a picture and post that on so Social media. And then we have a bunch of community partners that work with us. So we have personalized Coffee Sleeves that has our logo and the coffee shops logo, and then a message for survivors. And we do that with Dunn Brothers, with Cafe Floriana, with Coffeeville, with Perc Place in Hartford, and with The Hub, the Volunteer Center, like I'm forgetting the fifth leg, we also do a couple of different kind of like, where the business is run a promo. And then give us kind of some, some support some some financial support as well. And so Healing Elements here in West Bend is doing that Nail Essentials is doing that. And then also Hankerson's B akery is also doing that. So just you know, a couple of different ways to get that awareness out there and show support. That's great.
Fuzz Martin 10:40
That's great. And it's great that community comes together to help out and great that you're doing these big visible things to make the community aware that just a continuation of the sexual assault awareness month here in April, what are some things that you'd like the public to learn during this month?
Kate Nickel 10:55
Sure, I think first and foremost, it's really important just to reiterate the messages that we always want to start by believing, right? So no one ever expects or anticipates to experience sexual abuse or sexual assault, to what then when that does happen to them? Certainly, right, they might feel very alone, they might have no idea kind of how to help that those next steps and navigate what they've just experienced. So it's always helpful for people to know where resources are right so that if you know someone close to you, or you know, someone that then experiences that you're able to kind of get them connected. I think we also want to think about how sexual abuse and sexual assault happens and who perpetrators are, right. So some of our most vulnerable populations, always our children, okay. And so I think when you think about child sexual abuse, it's important to know that 93% of those assaults are by some unknown to the child, right. So it's not someone in the bushes out in the community that has no connection to that family and that child. So we want to make sure that we're talking to that talking to our kiddos right about safety and making sure they feel that they have trusted adults or trusted people that they can talk to, and then again, that we start by that believing, and I think also with adults, again, just making sure we can get them, get them connected. So I talked about those, you know, there's community partners. And so last year, we responded to the to the Child Advocacy Center for 70 cases, right? So that was just in Washington County, where we went over as an advocate and met with that family and offered support and services why that kiddo was going through a forensic interview. We also work with the hospitals, right. So when someone is sexually assaulted, if they choose right to report or go get medical care, we are there also to support with them. And we responded to just over 40 adult cases last year at that within the hospital medical system.
Fuzz Martin 12:31
Okay. And as we go into summer, Heidi was telling us on the Child Advocacy Center episode, that one of those kiddos lose their support. Yep. During the summer, so and Friends can be kind of a part of that. Right?
Kate Nickel 12:43
Absolutely. Yeah. So well, you know, is right, that kids sometimes rely on mandated reporters or getting out of the home or having other people right interface with them. And so brands certainly right can offer services all year long, whether that's individual advocacy support groups, right, that children's therapist, so yeah, absolutely. Making sure that we're keeping those kids supported and connected.
Fuzz Martin 13:02
And then you do again, in October, you do some some things to promote Domestic Abuse Awareness Month, correct?
Kate Nickel 13:07
Yes. So it's so similar. We also do the coffee sleeves. In the fall, we also do a downtown display, and that's actually purple silhouettes. So there's silhouettes, then I have survivor stories on them. We do purple. Right. So purple is domestic violence. There's all kinds of purple activities going on. So similar similar type events.
Fuzz Martin 13:23
Yeah, excellent. If individuals or businesses wanted to support Friends, how can they support you? And what do you need?
Kate Nickel 13:30
Sure. So I think a couple of different ways, right, that we are always looking to kind of connect with businesses is, again, helping spread that awareness. Right. So even though we've been in the community for 42 years, sometimes still, people only realize that we do domestic violence and that sexual assault or they still think of us the shelter and not the whole expansion of services, right? So any way that you're willing to kind of partner with us and get that awareness out there is great whether it's through social media newsletters, letting us write hang denim, or hang something to kind of get that promotion out there is great, certainly, right. We're obviously a nonprofit. So we're always looking for financial support. So ways that we can connect or have contributions that way, certainly are ideal as well. And then we also sometimes have businesses or small groups do like kind of like days of caring, right? So they come out and they maybe do a project where they paint a bedroom or clean the place ads or right things like that. So if you have an organization that likes to give back and are looking for ways to do that, those are things that we could connect as well.
Fuzz Martin 14:24
Again, if someone is in need of assistance from Friends, how do they get in touch?
Kate Nickel 14:28
So yeah, again, you can use the hotline, it's 24/7. It's 262-334-7298. And then of course, social media. There are all kinds of ways to message email and connect with us too. Great.
Fuzz Martin 14:38
Kate Nickel, thank you for coming in. Thanks for doing what you do for our community and we appreciate you coming on the show.
Kate Nickel 14:42
Thanks so much. It was really great to be here
Fuzz Martin 14:53
Thank you again to Kate nickel, the executive director of Friends, Inc. of Washington County for joining me on the show. today and thank you for listening to another episode this week, I greatly appreciate your loyalty. If you ever have an idea for the show, hop onto your computer or your phone and go to fuzz.cc/guest that's fuzz.cc/guest and let me know who you'd like me to speak with. I love learning about new things in our community and I rely on your help for me to hear about them. Follow the Show on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @fifteenwithfuzz That's @fifteenwithfuzz. New episodes every Monday, and occasionally surprise episodes when they happen. Thanks for listening and we'll talk to you next Monday right here on 15 Minutes with Fuzz.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai