A Safe Haven In The Heart of Jersey City

By Arely Sorto, Class of 2023

WomenRising, 270 Fairmount Ave, Jersey City, NJ

McGinley Square is home to many businesses and organizations that help the community thrive, some businesses have been around for a long time and others are just starting to pop up.

Among the more established businesses is WomenRising, an organization that has helped the community around McGinley Square and neighboring towns within Hudson County.  

“The organization has been here for 100 plus years,” said Sherylene Savery, the Community Education and Outreach Coordinator at Women Rising. 

Savery’s duty as an outreach coordinator is to go around the community and teach people about domestic violence and the different forms of it. She also hosts support groups for women who are survivors of domestic violence. 

Sherylene Savery

“I kind of like the challenge of working with that population because even though it can be difficult, the progress is just so rewarding for the survivor and for the worker,” said Savery. 

She has been working with the organization for three years. Prior to joining WomenRising, Savery worked in journalism and education. She wanted a change and the area of domestic violence was something that she was interested in.

WomenRising, formerly known as Young Women’s Christian Association, has been active for 115 years, originally founded in May 1905. The organization began with 168 women and by the end of 1905 the members grew up to 550. 

“It’s been a safe space for women ever since,” said Savery.

Plaque of the Young Women’s Christian Association

Since the beginning and as the years went on, the organization has been helping young girls and women in need of housing, jobs, counseling, and domestic violence services. 

Today, WomenRising is considered to be the state-designated agency in Hudson County for domestic violence services. The organization’s programs serve the people within the eleven municipalities throughout Hudson County.

The organization has also spread out their services to reach a more diverse public. According to Savery, the organization also helps men and individuals from the LGBTQ+ community. 

Savery is a part of 17 staff members within the Domestic Violence Services, but in total WomenRising has 35 members that are behind the organization. On average, the organization serves 11,480 individuals across the county. 

The services that the organization offer include domestic violence services, youth and family services, permanent supportive housing, community economic development, and one of the newer programs Healthy Women, Healthy Families. 

One of the major stories over the COVID 19 pandemic was the intensified cases of domestic violence across the country and across the world. One of the more popular global reports was done by UN Women, which focused on the growing violence against women in their homes and out in public throughout the pandemic. These cases are now known as the “Shadow Pandemic.”

“We never closed our doors at all,” said Savery. The team at WomenRising spent some days working remotely and others in the office. According to Savery, there was never a day during the peak of COVID 19 when the office was completely empty. 

“In the beginning we didn’t get a lot of calls,” said Savery. She suggests that people thought they were closed just as many businesses and offices were during lockdown.

 It took a couple of months later for people to realize that the organization had remained open. 

According to Savery, the current support group sessions she leads are not as full as they were before the pandemic. People are worried about coming together and getting sick.

“The amount of things that abusers were getting away with during the pandemic was just atrocious,” said Savery. Savery recalls some memories of the group sessions she has been a part of over the course of the pandemic.

“There is power in sharing,” said Savery. As the support group sessions go on, Savery notices more and more people attending.

The pandemic and lockdown gave everyone an obstacle to get through and WomenRising are getting through it with empathy and determination living up to their motto “From Crisis to Self Sufficiency.”

New Jersey Domestic Hotline : 1 (800) 527 – SAFE (7233)

Women Rising 24/7 Hotline: 201 – 333 – 5700

Request Counseling, Shelter, and other services

WomenRising.org

WomenRising is located at 270 Fairmount Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07306

No appointment needed, Monday – Friday, 9 AM – 5PM

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