On Thursday, October 20th, Cherelyn Homlish, Associate Director of Domestic Violence Services for People’s Place, was honored by White House leaders, receiving the Champions of Change award for her long-standing dedication, advocacy, and work to end domestic violence in southern Delaware and other communities.
During the event held at the White House, Ms. Homlish was one of 14 Champion of Change recipients. Champions of Change is a White House weekly initiative, which highlights Americans who are making an impact in their communities and helping our country rise to meet the many challenges of the 21st Century. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and leaders in the field of domestic violence shared their personal stories and discussed lessons learned while working to end domestic violence on a local level.
Ms. Homlish was recognized for working with victims of domestic abuse in the state of Delaware through the organization People’s Place. It was her ability to change the traditional model of domestic abuse shelters for women that earned her the honor of Champion of Change. Homlish created a model for shelters that moved away from the hierarchical concept where programs have rigid rules for women and developed a shelter where the women made decisions for themselves. This autonomy places the decision making process in the hands of the women who reside at the shelters and not solely on administration.
“This model dramatically changed the way shelters can work,” commented Ms. Homlish. “We were able to focus on the trauma that the women had experienced and we saw an increase in how many women our programs were able to reach.”
The new People’s Place domestic violence shelters experienced an increase of 40% in occupancy after the adoption of the new model, from 50% occupied to 90%. Women of domestic violence also stayed in the shelters longer on average, increasing from 14 days to 60 days, elevating their chances for success.
“We were able to change how long we work with the women and what we do with them,” commented Ms. Homlish. “The award from the White House was a great way to reinforce to the staff that this model is working. It is not an easy model to work with but it has shown that it works.”
People’s place is dedicated to becoming the agency of choice to “help people find their path to growth and independence”. Domestic violence victims are assisted after they leave the shelters as the organization helps with transitional housing costs including security deposits and rent. A Domestic violence hotline is open 24 hours per day, 365 days per year for any individual with a domestic violence emergency. Residents of Kent and Sussex Counties can call 302-422-8058, the upper Kent County area can call 302-678-3886 and New Castle County can call 302-762-6110. Abriendo puertas, which helps hispanic victims of domestic violence, can be reached by calling 302-745-9874. Individuals wishing to donate to People’s Place can contact Director Claudia Peña Porretti, at 302-422-8033, ext. 198.