UPICares Serves Dinner at HER Shelter

By Jessica Lay
Nov. 16, 2018

Earlier this month, five members of the UPICares team served dinner to 12 women and nine children seeking refuge at the Help and Emergency Response (HER) Shelter. HER Shelter provides basic assistance and aims to promote healing and empowerment to those affected by domestic violence. The dinner was the first out of our Norfolk, Va., office and marked the beginning of 2018’s Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.

Team members Nikita, Amina, Jessica B., and Ana ready to serve dinner to shelter clients.

According to the Salvation Army, six percent of homelessness cases in the U.S. are caused by domestic violence. The National Alliance to End Homelessness reported that on a single night in January 2017, 16 percent of the overall homeless population (87,329 people) had experienced domestic violence. Survivors often need to leave home very quickly, sometimes with children or pets. This means that they must go without simple necessities like a change of clothes, food, or money.

According to the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence (NCDSV), the cycle of abuse starts with mounting tension, then a violent incident, and ends with a calm stage when the abuser might apologize profusely or even deny they did anything wrong at all. But not all abuse is physically violent. Abusers find many ways to control their partners.

Defining Domestic Violence
Domestic violence, also known as intimate partner violence (IPV), can manifest in several ways, such as controlling behavior, physical or sexual violence, withholding or hiding money and resources, emotional or verbal abuse, stalking, and isolation. Signs of domestic abuse can include:

  • Fear of your partner or feeling threatened
  • Feeling like you walk on eggshells or anxiety over potential reactions from your partner
  • Feeling belittled or humiliated
  • Having your possessions withheld or destroyed
  • Having limited access to the phone, car, or finances

Abuse can happen to people of all ages, gender identities, and socioeconomic status. NCADV reports one in three women and one in four men have been victims of domestic violence at some point. IPV disproportionately affects those in the LGBTQ community, who might experience barriers accessing resources.

And children are often the hidden victims of domestic violence.

Chatting with clients in the food line.

Facts from the Childhood Domestic Violence Association(CDV):

  • In the U.S., five million children witness domestic violence each year.
  • Children from violent or abusive homes are much more likely to experience significant psychological problems, short and long-term.
  • Those who grow up with domestic violence are six times more likely to commit suicide and 50 percent more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol.

Organizations like the HER Shelter provide warm meals, a safe place to stay, and are often the first step to survivors on their path to healing by improving economic security and overall well-being. This makes HER Shelter a perfect partner for UPIC Health, which strives to empower women every day.

“We believe we can inspire others to reach their ultimate potential, to establish a better life for themselves and their children.”  -HER Shelter

UPICares volunteers arrived at the shelter with healthy food and drinks prepared ahead of time. We did not see every face while at the shelter. Some of the clients work nights and some are still healing and prefer to keep to themselves. Upon leaving the shelter, the UPICares team received many words of appreciation. One client even expressed that she wished we could cook for them every night.

The experience at the shelter inspired employees in Norfolk to launch a winter clothing drive. We hope to provide warm coats and clothing to the women, children, and teens at the shelter.  If you would like to donate to HER Shelter, please contact erika@hershelter.com or call 757-485-1073.

Our meal consisted of lasagna, salad, cheese ravioli and tomato sauce, and fruit with whipped cream for dessert.

No one deserves to be mistreated. If you or someone you know is experiencing intimate partner violence or domestic abuse, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224.

You can also visit their website at https://www.thehotline.org/

Author Jessica Lay is UPIC’s Program Lead for UPICares, the organization’s philanthropic initiative.  She spends half of her time assisting patients through UPIC’s contact center and recently completed a degree in Aging Services Management. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @UPICHealth.

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UPIC Attends N Street Night at Nationals Park

By Jessica Lay
Sept. 28, 2018

N St Village Members accepting a Spirit Award on Nats Field

UPICares volunteers had a blast at N Street Village’s Night at Nationals Park last week. Although our local team lost 2-4 against the New York Mets, the ‘friendraiser’ was a home-run for the women’s shelter that supports nearly 2,000 women a year.

UPIC employees that made in-kind donations to N St were entered into a raffle for a pair of tickets to the game. We made sure to take into consideration their most needed items at the moment: travel sized toothpaste (supplies were recently exhausted) and deodorant.

Nat fans intently watching the game.

N Street allocated great seats for the game and each ticket included a $10 concession credit and $5 donation to the Village.

To add to the excitement, the Washington Nationals honored local charities and organizations with Spirit Awards during the pre-game ceremonies. Before the first pitch, N Street employees were invited onto the ball field to accept a Spirit Award.

N Street’s mission was featured on the big screen twice, along with the logo that features a D.C. skyline.

N Street provides basic needs such as beds and warm meals for those in need. And daytime services include dental care, shelter, and wellness services, such as yoga, and much, much more. N Street’s mission is to empower homeless and low-income women in Washington D.C. to claim their highest quality of life. The Village serves about 208,000 meals and facilitates more than 5,000 showers per year.

Each woman comes to the village with her own unique set of circumstances. The Village works to meet those needs and empowers clients to overcome challenges, heal, and restore a sense of dignity and self-worth. N Street clients’ diverse challenges include:

  • Disability, mental illness, addiction, 64%
  • Self-reported HIV, 6%
  • Lack of income, 50%
  • Older population, 51% are over 50
  •  Discrimination, 81% percent are women of color.

“Every day at least one woman comes to N Street Village for the first time, and I know that – but for a few circumstances of fortune and timing – ‘she’ could be me.” -Schroeder Stribling, CEO of N St Village

UPICares volunteers had a blast at the game!

UPICares also is partnering with N Street in a workforce development program that clients of the Village can participate in. The program will help clients develop communications skills and prepare to get back into the workforce.

N Street is gearing up for Fall with some notable events:

Author Jessica Lay is UPIC’s Program Lead for UPICares, the organization’s philanthropic initiative.  She spends half of her time assisting patients through UPIC’s contact center and recently completed a degree in Aging Services Management. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @UPICHealth.

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Kennedy & Co Says Bring Your BRAWS to Our Home

Contact: Madeline Middlebrook
Phone: (703) 772-1136
Email: mmiddlebrook@kennedynco.com

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Aug. 10, 2018) – Kennedy & Co., a woman owned and operated, boutique real estate agency based in Georgetown, D.C. is partnering with UPIC Health in a “Sip & Support” happy hour event to support a local organization that collects and distributes supplies to D.C. metro-area women in need.

The Aug. 24 event is the first non-profit night of this kind hosted by Kennedy & Co. at its 1231 Potomac St. NW location. The Sip and Support happy hour aims to collect donations in the form of cash, boxes of unopened feminine hygiene products, and new bras and underwear with tags that will be distributed by BRAWS, which “believes all women and girls should have access to tampons and pads in public restrooms, schools, shelters and jails.”

“This happy hour event is a way for our company to show support for women looking to rebuild their lives.  We are so proud to be working hand-in-hand with UPIC and BRAWS, as both are as committed to serving our local community’s needs as we are,” says Kennedy & Co. Realtor Madeline Middlebrook.

Kennedy & Co and UPIC Health will provide drinks and light food, as well as information on BRAWS and continued opportunities to support women in need. Cocktail attire is advised and a method for cash donations will be provided.

Co-host, UPIC Health is 100% female owned and operated, serving the women’s reproductive health community for the last four years and partnering closely with non-profits, such as BRAWS, N Street Village in D.C. and H.E.R. Shelter in Hampton Roads, Va.

“Our organization is based on empathy and we cannot see a better way to live out that value than to support our partners,” said UPIC CEO, Mary Tucker. “We are thrilled that Kennedy & Co. has offered their space for this exciting event.”

BRAWS is a local non-profit whose mission is to bring dignity and empowerment to women and girls living in shelters by providing new personally fitted undergarments and menstrual products.

Kennedy&Co is a woman-owned, luxury boutique, small business located in Georgetown, D.C. that handles residential, commercial and land transactions.  If you would like more information on this event and its hosts, please call real estate sales agent Madeline Middlebrook at (703) 772-1136 or email mmiddlebrook@kenendynco.com

UPIC Health is a mid-size, women-owned and operated, private organization with operations in Chantilly and Norfolk, Va.  A business process outsourcer, UPIC offers patient contact center, revenue cycle management, and telebehavioral health services to clients across the country, all practicing under the value-based reimbursement concept.  UPIC is a 2018 Velocity Growth Award Winner and Growth Story of the Year recipient.  To learn more, visit https://www.upichealth.com or email Chief Marketing Officer, Juli Briskman at juli@upichealth.com. Follow us @UPICHealth.

Madeline Middlebrook
Real Estate Agent
Licensed in VA

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UPICares Partners with H.E.R. Shelter in Norfolk

By Jessica Bisch
Aug. 3, 2018

Expanding the UPICares initiative, UPIC Health is working with a new partner, H.E.R (Help and Emergency Response) Inc., a non-profit shelter that assists victims of domestic and relationship violence, stalking, and human trafficking.  The partnership will be organized out of UPIC’s Norfolk, Va. center as H.E.R. operates two facilities in Portsmouth and Chesapeake, Va.

As UPIC has learned through processing more than 120,000 patient calls per month, those in need of reproductive health support often are victims of the very issues plaguing H.E.R. Shelter clients.  Thus, in an effort to engender empathy and understanding among our employees, UPIC partners with several non-profits in this arena.

“We believe all adults and children are entitled to a violence-free life in a stable environment.”
H.E.R. Shelter, Inc.

Donations collected by UPIC for children in the H.E.R. Shelter Program

UPICares kicked off the partnership with H.E.R. by collecting for the annual Christmas in July Donation Campaign. Donations included toys, hygiene items, school and art supplies, among others things — all to be donated to the H.E.R. Shelter Children’s Program.

“Showing love and support to these children when circumstances such as domestic abuse arise, provides a sense of community for these mothers and families,” said Nikita Crawford, UPIC Senior Lead of Operations in the Norfolk Center. “Participating in this donation drive is UPIC’s way of saying we care about our communities and sometimes it takes a village to raise healthy, happy children.”

H.E.R. is certified by the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance and participates in a 24-hour emergency hotline, shelter, and other programs to empower individuals, break the cycle of abuse, and help clients sustain healthy and productive lives.

The CDC  reports that one in four women and one in nine men have experienced intimate partner violence; which can include physical, sexual, or stalking incidents resulting in a negative impact on their health and lives.  Women experiencing abuse also can have higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV.

Almost three-quarters of all murder-suicides are intimate partner related, and 94% of these victims are female according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV).  Up to 50% of  transgender people will experience will experience intimate partner violence at some point in their lives.

The team participated in an ugly Christmas sweater contest to show their support for the drive.

The Christmas in July Donation Drive culminated in an event at the Greenbrier Country Club in Chesapeake, Va., on July 25. It included a guest speaker who is a survivor of domestic violence, as well as a meet and greet with local businesses in the Hampton Roads area.

Dinner and cupcakes were provided by Sweet Haven Bakery, a workforce program developed by H.E.R. Workforce participants are expected to attend all employment and life skills classes and complete a certain number of kitchen hours to receive a food handler’s license. They also learn about interviewing, resume writing and receive references for future job applications.  Finding gainful employment often is the first step to empowerment for disenfranchised and abused women.

The Cycle of Abuse
In conjunction with the H.E.R. partnership, UPIC launched its quarterly Guest Speaker Series with H.E.R.’s Erika Compliment who discussed the cycle of abuse many clients are trying to break.

According to the Blue Campaign, which provides a free victim support phone line, intimate partner violence is often experienced in three stages. The first being increasing anger and blaming, followed by a verbal or physical attack, and finally, the calm stage when the abuser minimizes, apologizes, or denies that they did anything wrong.

Instances of violent physical and sexual abuse also can be coupled with factors such as coercion, threats, intimidation, emotional abuse, isolation, minimization, denial, blaming, weaponizing children, economic abuse, and misogyny. These factors of abuse are less easily defined, but add to the severity and length of the overall pattern of abuse, Compliment said.

“92% of women discuss abuse as one of their top mental health concerns, even if they have never been abused,” says Erika Compliment of H.E.R.

Guest Speaker Erika Compliment from H.E.R. with UPIC team members Jessica Bisch and Nikita Crawford.

Given the unique nature of every survivor’s story, Compliment put a personal spin on her speech.  Several UPIC employees also come from a background of abuse, making our work and partnerships with organizations such as H.E.R., that much more important and meaningful to us.  The discussion with Compliment was fulfilling and educational for all who attended.

Participating in the donation drive and speaker series allows UPIC to align with our partners in the common goal of supporting and empowering women.

Abuse happens across the board and does not depend on factors such as socioeconomic status or gender identity.  If you or a loved one find themselves in an emergency, call the police. If safe, reach out to the H.E.R., Inc. Hotline for assistance: 757-251-0144 or the National Domestic Abuse Hotline: 1−800−799−7233.  Among the statistics and information shared, Erika offered several resources including a phone number to call should you suspect human trafficking; 1-866-347-2423, and one for victim support: 1-888-373-7888, complimentary of the Blue Campaign.

Author Jessica Bish is a Patient Care Coordinator at UPIC Health. Jessica is involved in many of the volunteer endeavors pursued by UPICares and enjoys participating in our monthly spirit weeks. Nikita Crawford contributed to this story. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @UPICHealth.

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New BRAWS Partnership Aids Local Women Who Need It Most

As it was Women’s Health Month,  May was a great time to launch UPIC’s partnership with an organization that collects sanitary products, bras, and underwear and delivers them to women and teens in need.

UPIC employees in Norfolk and Chantilly, Va. collected items for Virginia-based  BRAWS (Brings Resources to Aid Women’s Shelters) and visited a local shelter to help distribute them.

When UPIC learned about BRAWS’ mission and that some women in Fairfax and Loudoun Counties were missing school, interviews, and other appointments because they did not have supplies, we knew immediately the organization aligns with our mission of Meaningful Engagement in Care and the support of women.

“Our employees were really thoughtful about the items they donated, understanding that functioning to our full potential as women requires confidence,” said Chief Marketing Officer, Juli Briskman.  “It’s hard to feel confident when using products that are not comfortable or wearing undergarments that don’t fit correctly.”

Four UPIC volunteers met BRAWS organizers at the Loudoun Emergency Homeless Shelter on May 23 to find everything pre-organized into size bins.  And bags had been compiled for women that had already signed up for the event and given their sizes.

Unfortunately for us, many of the women were working.  But we were glad to hear they were at work and would be able to pick up their “orders” when they got back to the shelter.  The women we did meet were very thankful for the items, tried some on, and left with several bags of goodies.

Many of the female residents and their families have been recently displaced by the housing crisis. And Loudoun County, which has the highest U.S. median income, has seen a surge in homelessness for singles and families, according to the Loudoun Times-Mirror.

Donations collected in Chantilly, Va.

During Hard Times, Feminine Care Drops in Priority

Basic necessities such as a well-fitting bra or sanitary products are not easy to come by for much of the population. Poverty rates are higher for  U.S. women than men.  And over half of the 37 million Americans living in poverty,  are women, according to the Center for American Progress. In combination with the prevailing wage gap and Pink Taxes,  undergarments and feminine products can quickly drop to the bottom of any priority list.

Donations collected in the Norfolk, Va. office

BRAWS  has stepped in to fill this gap, working alongside shelters, such as New Hope Housing, Thrive DC, and Doorways for Women and Families (among many others). BRAWS operates several drop-off sites and has a pickup service by appointment.  To learn more, visit the website.

Author Jessica Lay is UPIC’s Program Lead for UPICares, the organization’s philanthropic initiative.  She spends half of her time assisting patients through UPIC’s contact center and recently completed a degree in Aging Services Management. Follow us @UPICHealth.

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