My partner and I come from very different backgrounds and my first few years as a rookie member of his family taught me so much.

Early in our relationship as we struggled to balance our responsibilities of work and school with our strong pull to share time with family during the holidays, my now-husband and I were often the last of the six siblings (plus spouses and grandchildren) to arrive at family gatherings. Holidays were always hosted at my in-laws’ tiny home in the small rural community they lived out their lives. Often, by the time we rolled in (after a day of grueling travel) we had missed the holiday meal and the dessert table was completely ravaged. Mycup of coffee next to a plate of cookies. mother-in-law, a master of nuanced communication and a deeply loving human, began a ritual in year two that continued until the end of her life.

She knew my favorite cookies were her homemade Mexican Wedding Cakes, an anchor to my own holiday memories. Each year, she would plate a few of these fragile and buttery delights, wrap them in plastic and tuck them away from the early waves of hungry guests. Each year as we hugged hello she would whisper where my personal cookie stash was waiting, untouched. The impact of her gesture made me feel seen and welcomed into that huge and chaotic family, but the largest take-away for me was that no matter the hour, I was expected and that a place had been made for me.

After nearly 35 years of this quiet holiday ritual, upon our arrival following a particularly difficult and snowy drive, I checked my normal cookie spot in the cabinet above the kitchen sink – only to find fudge! When I turned around with plate in hand and a confused and clearly disappointed expression, my sister-in-law squealed across the room as she realized that I held her favorite fudge and in her hand was my treasured Mexican Wedding Cakes. In that moment we both realized that we had the same special connection with our shared mother-in-law. She made a space for each of us. We were each welcomed. We were each expected.

At STAND!, our shelters welcome survivors and their children at all times of the day and night, every day of the year – we provide a simple but cozy room for them that confirms that we see them and we welcome them. We can only do this with the support of the community and are asking you today to help us prepare a place for an exhausted and frightened survivor in the coming year, by donating today.

STAND! appreciates your support in these uncertain times. A gift of $250 supports a parent and child escaping a violent home by providing safe lodging, food, clothing, emergency transportation and wraparound services for an entire overnight stay; a gift of $500 provides a safe weekend while a survivor develops his/her safety plan and relocates out of the area; $1750 supports a family for an entire week.

Please consider helping us make a place for each domestic violence survivor in our community who makes the tough decision to leave home and seek shelter, in order to stop the violence in their lives.

With gratitude,

Rhonda James, CEO


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