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story.lead_photo.caption Brandy Osmus Northwest Arkansas Women's Shelter Executive Director

Tell us about your organization:

• Mission: To provide shelter and support at any hour for those affected by domestic violence in our community.

StandUp Comedy Night

Who: Northwest Arkansas Women’s Shelter

What: Comedy, live music, hors d’oeuvres, beer, wine, silent auction

When: 7-10 p.m. June 20

Where: Grub’s Bar & Grille in Rogers

Tickets: $50

Information: (479) 246-9999 or nwaws.org

• Services provided: 24/7 crisis hotline, shelter and provisions, advocacy, court advocacy, children's services, support groups, counseling, safety planning, outreach support, grocery and gas assistance, housing assistance, resources and referrals, community education.

• Service area: Benton, Carroll, Madison, and Washington counties

• Average number of people served annually: 600-plus

How is your organization's mission unique?

The Northwest Arkansas Women's Shelter serves ANY victim of family violence, regardless of the relationship to the abuser, and also provides services to men, women and children who are affected by domestic abuse.

Why do you work for a nonprofit organization? Do you have a personal connection to the mission? If so, what is it?

As a survivor myself, I know first hand the many challenges of leaving an abuser and want to develop the Women's Shelter into the flagship domestic violence provider in Arkansas. I'm excited to bring my experiences full circle by empowering families to build lives free of domestic and sexual violence.

What part of your job fills the most of your time?

I have been at the organization for less than a month. Because I am so new, most of my time has been spent on training, getting to know the staff, stakeholders and counterparts at other nonprofit organizations. Once I get more settled in, my focus will be on strategy and execution.

What have you learned on the job that you didn't expect?

In the short time that I have been here, I quickly began to learn the many differences between working in a for-profit, where I spent all of my career until now, the biggest of which would be our purpose, funding sources and audience.

I've also learned a lot about the intricate details of fundraising and the various ways people or organizations can support us.

What challenges face your organization?

Challenges fall into a few different areas:

Protecting our clients: Maintaining confidentiality can be a real challenge. Because of confidentiality and safety of our clients and staff, we have to be careful with disclosing our location while still maintaining visibility in the community. In addition, maintaining a strong financial base is critical for any nonprofit organization.

Helping our clients stay safe when they leave: One of our biggest challenges in serving our clients is helping them to find affordable housing opportunities at the end of their shelter stay. We are part of several collaborative efforts with other organizations in the community to help address some of these systemic issues.

Are there volunteer opportunities in your organization? What are they?

We love volunteers! The quickest way to volunteer is at our Thrift Store, where all proceeds go to support our clients. We rely on volunteers to help process donations and get inventory out the door six days each week. We also have regular volunteer opportunities and internships in our shelter with a focus on programs (e.g. answering phones, serving clients, providing childcare) or administration (e.g. fundraising, donation management). Finally, we have committee volunteer opportunities to help with fundraising projects and other initiatives.

What upcoming fundraisers and/or other events does your organization have planned?

There are lots of ways people/companies can support the shelter: one time donations, recurring and/or matching gifts are always welcome. In addition, we have both signature fundraising events as well as third-party fundraisers. Check out our Facebook event page for more details on both types of events.

Our next signature fundraiser will be Fresh StART on Oct. 12 at The Peel Mansion in Bentonville. This is a great event featuring live music, a local artist and a silent auction. If you or your company are interested in a sponsorship package, please reach out and let me know so that we can send information to you!

We have several community partners who support us through third-party fundraisers as well. The next fundraiser benefiting us is the second annual StandUp Comedy Night on June 20. It is a sold-out event!

NAN Profiles on 06/09/2019

Print Headline: Personified

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