All posts by ILF Team

The Difference Between Anger & Violence

Tensions about politics, race, sports teams, and ethics fill the headlines, no matter where you look.

We see anger and violence more and more frequently in our culture. Most lump anger and violence together, but this shouldn’t be the case because the two are very different. Let’s define each:

Anger is an emotion that motivates and energizes us to act. In its purest form, it’s a feeling that lets us know that something in our environment isn’t right and needs to be changed. It’s a natural response that comes from our survival instinct. Everyone feels anger.

Anger (n) the feeling people get when something unfair, painful or bad happens.

Cambridge Dictionary

Violence is a behavior that intentionally causes harm to someone or something. It often stems from anger, but because it requires choice, violence is separate from anger.

Violence (n) the use of physical force so as to injure, abuse, damage, or destroy; intense, turbulent, or furious and often destructive action or force.

Merriam Webster

Most psychologists agree that anger is a natural response, but violence is an active choice.

Unfortunately, many people use anger as an excuse to behave violently. Violence shows up in a variety of ways, from emotional or verbal to physical or sexual. (It’s important to understand that violence doesn’t need anger to fuel it. A person can act violently without first becoming angry.) Individuals can become trapped in a domestic violence relationship, and it’s difficult to escape. 

Productive Uses for Anger

A few well-known people have used their anger to start reformations. Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi both focused their anger in a way that benefitted the entire world. More recently, the Woman’s March and the student walkouts for climate change are peaceful demonstrations that have their root in anger.

Anger can be a force for constructive behavior just as it can be a force for destructive behavior. For example, let’s say a child gets a bad grade on his test. He is angry about his grade. He can use anger as a motivator to study better or as a motivator to slam the door. Whatever decision he makes, the action is a choice. When well-managed, anger can be used positively. When it’s not well-managed, anger can lead to violence.

Well-Known National Resources

If you find that you or someone you love is in a relationship that has moved from anger to violence, seek help. 

Stem the Tide of Violence

What can we do to stem the tide towards violence? 

  • It’s important to separate our angry feelings from violent behavior. 
  • We won’t always agree with those around us 100%. In fact, it’s rare that we agree on all points, even with our loved ones! As a result, we can learn to have civil conversations that stem from respect. 
  • We can grow our empathy muscle through continual use. 
  • Gratitude and anger can’t coexist, so we can practice gratitude daily. 
  • We can learn to build better families through teamwork and healthy goal-setting.

These tools and practices can help us lead lives in which anger is productive and non-violent. Our commitment to these practices and to healthy boundaries can make a dramatic shift in the way we interact with the people around us.

ILF Rebrand: 3 Designs Become One

This is it—the final rebrand blog post before the new site goes live. Now you get to see the transformation of Indrani’s Light Foundation into RAFT.

After providing the team with 100 ideas, Rethink (the agency helping with our rebrand) stepped away with our feedback, worked for a few weeks, then returned to share three design ideas for RAFT. Here is a quick refresher on the scribbled ideas that lead to the final three designs:

Three Designs Become One in the ILF brand transformation

Rethink transformed each of these rough ideas into a complete design. In this post we will show an example of the logo, social media posts, and the mobile website for each of the designs. Then you can be the judge of which RAFT design is your favorite.

Choice 1: “The Brackets”

This was Jeremie’s favorite. The rest of the team liked this one, but ultimately, the vote on the brackets design was split right down the middle. Even when we reached out to family, friends, and advocates we had trained, the vote was 50/50 on this design.

Things the team loved:

  • How the brackets framed RAFT and gave it a structure. Not quite a logo, but not quite a wordmark.
  • We liked how the shape of the brackets transformed into patterns that could be used as backgrounds or woven into images (not big on the color choices, but liked the patterns)
  • The mobile site looked distinct with the pattern at the top, and clean with the different colors.
  • We could imagine different design uses with the brackets in our blog posts, manual, and print materials
ILF brand transformation RAFT logo

Social Media Post Examples:

ILF Brand Transformation social media post examples

Mobile Website Example

ILF Brand Transformation mobile website examples

Choice 2: “The Support Beam”

This was Indrani’s favorite. This was also the other half of that 50/50 split amongst the team, friends, family, and advocates (SPOILER: There aren’t any votes left for design #3).

The team had mixed thoughts on this one:

  • Loved the connection between the “A and F” that gives a feeling of support from the wordmark
  • We liked the pattern as background and in the images but felt these patterns were boring
  • We were intrigued to underline things to show support, but it would take several days before we all got on board with the idea
  • We like the meaning of RAFT being displayed beside the wordmark and felt it gave added clarity that we were missing with the original name and RAFT all on its own.


ILF Brand Transformation Raft logo with name

Social Media Post Examples

ILF Brand Transformation RAFT social media post examples

Mobile Website Example

ILF Brand Transformation RAFT Mobile Website Example

Choice 3: “Designer Jeans”

To be honest, before writing this post, I had forgotten the color palette of this choice (hopefully I will forget it again), my memories of this design focused on the design of the wordmark. This was the only design on which the team was 100% agreed. This design was a “NO.”

Why did this one miss the (word)mark?

  • Ummm… the colors. Peach and olive green. Too many thoughts of sunny afternoons with the military lounging in sundresses for us.
  • We felt the actual wordmark was too stylized, like a clothing company, and would be hard for people to read. We felt we could only read it because we already knew what it said.
  • The patterns reminded us of wallpaper (although we liked the circles around the images)
  • The mobile site with the hard to read wordmark and the odd color combo was just a big “NO”

Raft Logo

ILF Brand transformation RAFT Logo pink

Social Media Post Examples

ILF Brand Transformation Raft Pink Social Media Post Examples

Mobile Website Examples

ILF Brand Transformation Raft Pink Mobile Website Examples

The Final Design is…

If you are reading this post on original ILF website, you can visit now to see the splash page for the new site and get a hint at what our final decision was. We took elements from all three for the final design.

If you are reading this blog post on the new RAFT website, this final blog post is anti-climactic, as you have already seen the final decisions we made.

Either way, we hope you not only find the new RAFT design to your liking, but that you are getting value from the new design and all the new content available on the new RAFT website.

The team looks forward to being of even greater service as RAFT!

This is Part 8 of our rebrand story. Read previous articles about our rebrand below

Part 1 Rebranding ILF: A Story of Change
Part 2 Our Brand’s Highs and Lows
Part 3 A Solidified Brand Profile
Part 4 Playing in the Visual Sandbox
Part 5 Naming is HARD
Part 6 Getting Through the Bad Names
Part 7 99 Failures to 1 Great Idea

4 Small Things You Can Do to Make a Big Difference in Your Loved Ones Lives

Advocate, we know you give 110% every single day — to your job, your family, your neighbors, and your friends. The requirements for your daily life are unrelenting. To think about giving more, even just a little bit, may push you to the edge of tears. How can you find one more ounce of strength and courage? Working with survivors is one of the most rewarding things you can do, but compassion fatigue is real. We’re here to help — you, survivors, and your families. Our list below is a hug to all of you, to help you live just a bit lighter and smile just a bit brighter.

These simple things can make a big difference:

Meditate on the gift of family.

You can make a big difference in your loved ones lives by meditating on the gift of family

This one is just for you, Advocate. Take 5 minutes to pause and think on the gift of family. Whether it’s birth family or chosen family, count the ways they bring joy to your life. Think of their smiles, their laughter, the way they crinkle their eyes after they say something funny. Feel their hugs, their warmth when you sit together. Think on the all way they make you feel safe. Visualize the ways they fill your life with color. Two minutes in and you’ll probably feel energy seep back into your heart. Four minutes and you can’t wait to see them. 

Smile when you see them.

You can make a big difference in your loved ones lives by smiling when you see them

Before you allow chores or dinner plans to take over your thoughts, greet your loved ones with a smile. There’s power in this simple act. You convey to yourself that you are happy and hopeful, and to everyone around you that they are accepted and welcome. Try one on right now. Feel your cheeks rise right along with your mood. (In fact, a British study states that one smile can generate the same level of brain stimulation as up to 2,000 bars of chocolate and can be as stimulating as receiving $25,000. We like the sounds of that study!)

Verbalize Your Appreciation

You can make a big difference in your loved ones lives by making a list of all the reasons you love them

When we intentionally stop to think about all the ways our loved ones add to our lives, our list grows pretty quickly. Make note of things as you think about them. Write an old-fashioned pen-and-paper list. Use the reminders on your phone. Whatever ways you choose to keep tabs on the wonderful uniqueness of your loved ones, make sure you look them in the eye and tell them with your words. 

Share the Reasons You Serve

You can make a big difference in your loved ones lives by verbalizing your appreciation

Think of all the things you do each week to keep your loved ones up and running. Perhaps you grocery shop, run errands, clean the house, wash the laundry, or run the kids to school. Talk to them about why you do it. Here are a few examples:

  • I love washing your sheets so you have a warm cozy bed.
  • I love driving you to school so I can have one last hug before you learn.
  • I love grocery shopping for you so we can eat healthy food and feel good as a family. 
  • Keeping the house clean helps me keep you safe, and I love knowing you’re safe and comfortable.
  • Running errands is so much better when I get to spend time with you. I love hearing about how your day has gone. 

These things not only bless your loved ones, they help you stay focused on the positive things that are part of your daily life.

By doing this, you’ll be able to #fillyourcupfirst. Advocate, thank you for the ways you make a difference every single day, at work and at home. Our world is a better place because you’re in it. 

What Happens After the Shelter: A Daily Self-Care Routine to Keep You Strong

There’s no question that you’re making a difference in the world as a advocate or shelter worker. But when it comes to the day-to-day grind, most advocates find themselves either worn out or headed there. A daily self-care routine can bolster you through the difficult days and sustain you so you’re able to make your long-term goals happen.


With a strong self-care routine, you’ll not only be able to support survivors, but also remain safe, healthy, and happy. This trickles down to safe, healthy and happy friend and family relationships as well. Let’s talk about how to get to a healthy self-care routine.

What is self-care?

The Oxford Dictionary defines self-care as follows:

Self-care [selfkair], NOUN. The practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health; The practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.

This definition extends the cliché self-care vision of bubble baths, candles, and massages to a countless array of options. A self-care routine looks different for every single person. Why? Because self-care involves what youneed to preserve your own health. Consider the following self-care routines:

Practice Gratitude


Taking time to daily note the things in life that you’re grateful for can lead to an invaluable legacy. (It’s more than just thanks!) Life gets busy and it may feel like it’s not worth it. The house is a mess, the laundry is waiting, and dinner needs to be made. But what if you did it anyway? What if you showed up, took 5 minutes, and learn to be habitually be grateful for the ordinary, seemingly inconsequential moments? This five minutes a day can be life-changing! You can even keep it all in a gratitude journal. Indrani shares her own process here.

Communicate Your Needs

Clear boundaries can be a form of self-care. Even if you aren’t fully clear on what healthy boundaries look like for you, have courage to start somewhere. For some, this first step may be learning that you have permission to take up space in the world. The next step in boundaries may be to learn to be clear about the way you view things. When we don’t communicate these viewpoints, the uncomfortable things often get stuck inside until they blow up. Consider that remaining quiet in difficult situations often isn’t respectful to your own values, your belief system, or your physical needs. Be in tune with how you feel when a boundary is crossed, and know that this ongoing stress can have many detrimental effects.

When it comes to boundaries, you can only control and change yourself in these situations, so focus on steps that you are in control of, no trying to change the other person in order to improve the situation. For more information on communicating boundaries, check out our free Live a Brighter Life course!

Expand Something You Love

Self-care doesn’t have to be about starting something new. It may be strengthening what you’re enjoying or already good at. Identify something you already love and making more space for it. Put more energy into it and make it stronger. Make an effort on the things that are already rooted and shore it up a little. This is the key to sustainability. Find the thing that works and do more of it.

Find Ways to Connect with Others


When you’re tired and feel like you’re barely keeping up with life in general, making time for friends and family may seem impossible. We’re built for community — relationships are what bolster us and keep us going. Even introverts need connection. (These moments will most likely look different than an extrovert’s time, but they’re still vital for a healthy you.) Consider some creative ways you can connect:

  • Find a group who is excited about something you love. From board games to cycling, there’s a community group for everyone. Meet regularly with them!
  • Try a weekly online meetup where you can talk face-to-face with others.

These relationships can increase your energy and are helpful for your state of mind and other relationship in your life. Self-care doesn’t have to be just about ourselves and doing things on our own. It can include others, too!

Hold Space for Your Personal Life

It’s easy to take work home with you. Often, we vent about work problems to those we love. While it’s great (and important!) to have a safe space, limit this time. Hold boundaries around your time together with loved ones so it can be a positive experience for everyone. It’s also important to have a conversation about what personal time looks like for each person in the relationship. For example, reading side-by-side may be viewed as together time for some, but personal time for others. These two areas may be defined very differently than what you might expect.

Take Small Steps Towards a Bigger Goal


If you want to run in a marathon next year, start the journey today. Tell everyone about your goal so you’re accountable to them as well as yourself. Reframe how you think about your daily or weekly activities so you’re reminding yourself of that these activities are part of that goal. For example, you’re not working out at the gym, you’re training for a marathon. This simple switch can help keep you motivated and on track!


Whatever meditation means to you, pursue it. It may be quiet time to be within yourself. Perhaps it’s prayer time. Yoga can be an exercise of meditation. If you’re just learning about meditation, discover 4 ways meditation can help you stay balanced. If you don’t know where to start, meditate with Indrani:

Whatever form of self-care you choose, start simply.

Choose one thing and do it consistently. If you miss a day, forgive yourself. Get back in and start doing it again without self-condemnation. Remember, you’re doing the best you can for yourself, and it only takes one small step to get started.

For more examples of self-care practices, listen to these two Caring for the Caregivers podcasts:

How to Build Resilience as Advocates

Working with survivors is rewarding, but it can also be exhausting. Most advocates experience compassion fatigue at some point or another. Psychotherapist Dennis Portnoy believes that compassion fatigue is caused by empathy. “It is the natural consequence of stress resulting from caring for and helping traumatized or suffering people.” All this means that when you’re serving and coming alongside survivors, it just might wear you out. Staying healthy and whole as an advocate is vital, both to those your support and the loved ones who need you before and after work. 

Healthy boundaries help Care Givers remain healthy for their loved ones

Two vital keys help support advocates: personal boundaries and remaining present.

Setting and Maintaining Personal Boundaries

Personal boundaries are the mental, emotional, and physical limits you establish to protect yourself. They separate who you are, what you feel, and what you believe from the thoughts and feelings of others. In other words, they’re what define your “you-ness.” Any time someone crosses these boundaries you’ve established, it’s an infringement.

Unhealthy boundaries show up in a lot of ways. 

You might need to establish healthier boundaries if any of the following ring true for you:

  • You’re a people-pleaser.
  • You give for the sake of giving.
  • You take for the sake of taking.
  • You let others define you.
  • You expect others to fulfill your needs.
  • You feel guilty saying “no.”
  • You don’t speak up when you’re treated badly.
  • You play the victim.
  • You accept advances without first granting permission.
  • You don’t keep yourself safe.
  • You hug people you’re unfamiliar with.

Healthy boundaries allow you to be confident in who you are, what you feel, and what you believe.

What a better way to live! Unhealthy boundaries push you into lying. Wait, what? Unhealthy boundaries cause you agree to things you don’t want to do or don’t believe in to please people, gain approval, or avoid guilt. You quickly say, “Yes, I’d love to,” when you don’t have time, energy, or passion for it. You can wind up stressed out, exhausted, and failing to keep up. No one wants to see you there! 

A brighter life for Care Givers is possible

It’s important to remember that healthy boundaries are often a work in progress. Establishing healthy boundaries starts when you know your values. And from there, you can begin to say “no” by saying “yes” differently.

Remaining Present Physically and Emotionally

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone but suddenly realize that your thoughts are a million miles away? How about playing with your child but mentally trying to solve a difficult situation at work? It can be difficult to remain physically and emotionally present at home, especially when you’re working with traumatized and suffering people at work. 

Take a few minutes to center and grounding yourself takes only minutes but makes a big difference.

When you find your mind wandering, a few deep breaths through your nose can help pull yourself back to the present. When you’re transitioning from work to home, take a few moments as you leave to intentionally leave work at work. Listen to a meditation with Indrani on your way home.  

Care givers can take a few minutes to center and ground yourself.

Unpack your emotions related to the problem you’re trying to solve.

When you have healthy boundaries, you are able to live confidently. If something keeps tripping you up mentally or emotionally, it’s often the result of a boundary issue. Take a few moments to ask yourself what boundary is being crossed and whyyou have that particular boundary. Once you’re able to unpack the root cause of the problem, you’ll be able to pursue a healthy solution.

Establish a gratitude practice.

Start a gratitude journal! Bookend your days with a short list of things you’re thankful for. Surround yourself with positive people who make you shine. The more we shine, the more we’re available for love. And if you aren’t sure where to start, consider uncovering your strengths. When we pursuse our strengths, we’ll be able to handle stress and life challenges, become happier, and develop more satisfying relationships.

Boundaries setting and remaining present takes discipline and practice. Training can provide the tools to make the process easier. It also helps you establish a support network of like-minded people. If you don’t know where to start, jump into our free Live a Brighter Life course. These six classes with teach you to live a more empowered life. If you’d like training for your shelter, organization, or group of Advocates, contact us. We’ll show you how to respect yourself, establish healthy boundaries, and build resilience. A brighter life is possible!

How to Help a Friend Who Is Being Abused

We all hate the thought of abuse, but many don’t know how to express concerns about a friend who is being abused. What we do know is that abuse is all around us. More than 1 in 3 women (35.6%) and more than 1 in 4 men (28.5%) in the U.S. report having experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. 

How to Help a Friend Who Is Being Abused

According to the National Center for Abuse and Domestic Violence (NCADV), “Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence can vary dramatically; however, the one constant component of domestic violence is one partner’s consistent efforts to maintain power and control over the other.”

According to, 90% of all domestic violence survivors are female and most abusers are male. As a result, we refer to survivors in this article as “she,” but realize that men can be abused as well.

If you suspect someone you love is being abused, it’s important to broach the topic with her. It’s tempting to want to rush in save the day, but abuse is complicated. Confronting abuse has the potential to be dangerous, especially for the abuse survivor. There are many ways to help a friend who is being abused. We cover a few below:

Voice Concern

When we see a friend getting hurt, whether it be physically or emotionally, let her that know you’re concerned. Initiate the conversation rather than wait for her to say something. Let her know you’ve seen some things that don’t seem healthy for her and ask her how these make her feel. It’s important to allow her space to identify these situations and work through the pattern of abuse.

Generational violence normalizes abusive behavior, so it may be difficult for her to realize she deserves a safe relationship. When you voice concern, it’s important to ensure this talk is at time and place that is private. It’s helpful to have this discussion in person, as well.


It may be tempting to share your concerns and then walk away, letting her decide whether or not to heed your warnings. Or worse, tell her what she should do. An abused woman is already being told what to do by their abuser. They don’t need you trying to control them as well. Instead, invite conversation. Ask her what she would like to see in her relationship. Abuse is about power, so ask how she would like to see herself regaining some of her own power. 

If you suspect a friend is being abused, voice concern

Be patient as you listen. It’s often difficult for a survivor to talk about her abusive. She’s learned to live in denial to survive, so a shift in thinking may take time. 


Far too often, people choose to support an abuse survivor only if she leaves her abuser. When we offer this conditional support, we are no better than her abuser, who uses manipulation to control behavior. And if she chooses to remain in the relationship, your conditional support only isolates her more.

An individual who has been abused may lose her voice — her ability to speak for herself. Encourage her to talk and explore some potentially new thoughts concerning her relationship. Sometimes support looks like helping her find someone to talk to who has experience in dealing with abusive relationships. 

No matter what she decides at the end of your discussion, remain supportive. If she decides to remain in the relationship, you may voice concern, but again, remain supportive of her.

Don’t Blame

Let her know that the abuse is not her fault. It’s common for a survivor to think that if she had handled the situation better or used a different tone of voice the abuse would not have happened. An abuser chooses to abuse, and this choice has nothing to do with the actions of the survivor. Never blame an abuse survivor for her abuse.

Help Make a Safety Plan

If you suspect a friend is being abused help her create a safety plan

Creating a safety plan might involve a packing bag of essentials. It may be developing a code word so she can let you know that she is in danger without her abuser suspecting she is sounding cry for help. You can help arrange a meeting place if she needs to leave at a moment’s notice. It’s also helpful to have a list of local shelters in the event a safe, private shelter is needed.

Well-Known National Resources

If you work with abused women, thank you! We encourage you to remember to continue to care for yourself through the process. Self-care and a practice of gratitude is necessary to keep yourself centered and to remain strong. Our Live a Brighter Life Course and Caring for the Caregiver is a unique and powerful resource for people just like you. We also host monthly Caregiver Call. Check our Facebook page for details on the next call.

How to Say No by Saying Yes Differently

We can all learn to give a powerful and positive “no.”

Have you ever struggled with boundaries? Perhaps you’ve been able to say “no” to someone but doing so filled you with anxiety. Or maybe you were plagued by guilt afterwards. There’s a way to say “no” differently, in a way that is helpful and — believe it or not — easy.

Learning to say “no” is important. In fact, there’s a world out there that needs us to say “no” once in a while (or all the time). It’s a world in which you can create what you want, protect what you want, and then change what no longer works. There’s a way to not just say “no,” but to say it powerfully and positively. 

Below you’ll find some solid principles on how to say “no,” taken straight out of William Ury’s book, The Power of a Positive No. (Over the last thirty years he has helped millions of people, hundreds of organizations, and numerous countries at war reach satisfying agreements.) We love this book! 

An unhealthy “no” shows up in three ways.

Before we get to that empowering place of “no,” we need to understand the ways in which we’re currently giving an unhealthy “no”: 

  • Instead of saying “no,” we accommodate. In the process we lose power.
  • Instead of saying “no,” we attack. In the process we lose the relationship.
  • Instead of saying “no,” we avoid. In the process we lose both power and the relationship.

These are all unhealthy noes. If you’re unsure what type of unhealthy “no” you tend to give (and it may be more than one category), think of an instance in which you’d like to say no to someone or something but don’t know how to say “no.” What emotions do you feel? What physical symptoms do you experience?

Yes, all that.

In this moment as you think about the situation, you might feel anxiety. The beginnings of a headache. Guilt. Defeat. These feelings and emotions are great signals to let you know that you need to learn how to say “no” in a healthy manner.

A healthy “no” centers on our values.

We feel these things because whatever uncomfortable situation we find ourselves in is typically a situation contrary to our values. Our values are unique to each of us. We could define values as a GPS system that helps us remember where we’re going. Values are something we carry with us every single day to help us make our decisions. Values point us to our purpose in life. They’re what make us work the long hours, give until we don’t feel we can give anymore, and then go home and give to our families. Our values allow us to know what’s a true yes and what’s an actual no. 

A healthy “no” follows a formula.

A healthy “no” involves three parts: yes, no, yes. 

  • The first yes is a yes to ourselves and the values that are important to us. 
  • No is a firm enforcement of our boundary.
  • The second yes offers another possibility or option. An “I won’t do that but I can do this.” This is another yes to ourselves but in way that aligns with our values. There isn’t always a second yes.

Let’s visualize this. Imagine a tree. The first yes is the root system. It provides the stability for the tree. Our values provide our stability. The no is the trunk of the tree. It is firm and straightforward. This is how we stand in the face of something that is contrary to our values. The second yes is the branches. A branch the possibility we offer as a different solution. We can choose one of many options. This isn’t a compromise or an accommodation — it’s a different plan, one that aligns with our values and reinforces them.


Occasionally, we might experience some pushback to our positive “no.”  If we waver in the face of this pushback, it’s a sign that we need to go back and explore our values and identify a more important one that supports our first yes. Once we discover our core values — the deep ones — we won’t waver, feel guilty, or second guess our positive “no.” 

If you’d like to learn more, are struggling with setting healthy boundaries, or find it difficult to say “no,” sign up for our Live a Brighter Life Course.

In this free course, we teach people to live with more joy and more freedom. And that involves learning to say “no.” Whether you’re a survivor of domestic violence or a CEO of a world organization, living in a shelter or running a shelter, this course will challenge and encourage you!

Setting Up Fundraisers to Support Domestic Violence Shelters

Domestic violence shelter needs may seem daunting. They need healthy food, personal hygiene items, laundry detergent, children’s toys and games, and clothing. Often survivors need medical attention, counseling, and legal advice. All need a clear path to stability. And it takes funding to make it happen. With a little ingenuity, a solid plan, and a willingness to ask, many people can raise more funds than they might believe. And it only takes one person to get the ball rolling. After all, it only took one woman — Rosa Parks — to start the civil rights movement. It took one man — Ghandi — to start a non-violent protest that led India to independence. Martin Luther nailed his 99 Theses to a church door and started the Protestant Reformation. Thomas Edison electrified the entire world with carbonized sewing thread.

And yet it also took a village, as these individuals built on the story they were given, one that was started by others before them and carried forward by others after them. The same is true when it comes to making an impact on your community. It takes one person with a vision and a passion to inspire others to rally around a worthy cause. Why can’t that person be you?

Whether you’re a shelter worker, a business owner, or a stay-at-home mom, you have the potential to change the world and impact your local domestic violence shelter in big ways. Below are a few steps to get you started on the road to setting up fundraisers and community events:

Set a goal.

Set a goal and be specific. You may want to raise a certain dollar amount. You may want to raise one ton or 100 cart-fulls of food. It may be all about stocking up on hygiene items. Whatever your goal is, make it specific. Whatever goal you set, share that goal with as many people as possible. People and businesses can’t rally around you unless they know the goal exists.

Build a team.

We’ve all heard the phrase, “It takes a village.” This is true when it comes to fundraising as well. No one person can pull off a fundraising event. It might all stem from one person with a vision, like this woman in Kentucky who raised $40,000 in just one month for Welcome House. But it takes a whole posse of passion-filled people to plan an event. Together they can gather supplies, donations, and procure any entertainment. 

Your team needs to have variety and enthusiasm for the cause because no one person can do everything well. Some people are born planners. Some are born sales people. And others love to talk and put people at ease. Each person in our community has a special set of giftings. When setting up a fundraiser, match your tasks to the people who can do them well. When everyone is strategically matched to their job, your event can move forward more efficiently, but also more enthusiastically. 

Tell the story.

It’s one thing to say, “We need $3,000.” It’s another to share a story about how much $100 will go: 

  • 2 nights at our shelter
  • Meals for 20 individuals
  • Job training for 13 single moms

Help your audience visualize the change they will make when they give. Share the success story of a young man or middle-aged woman or a teen mom. How did staying at your shelter make a difference in his or her life? Surround your fundraiser with stories that people can relate to or visualize. When we help people see the tangible difference they personally can make through their contribution, the momentum to give can build. 

Plan well.

A good plan is a well-laid plan. Involve everyone in regular planning meetings to energy stays high, everyone is clear on the goals, and camaraderie is built. Communicate well and be specific in what you will need at every step in the process: before, during, and after your fundraiser. But no matter how well you plan, remember to be flexible. Not everything may go exactly as you want, but that doesn’t mean that setting up a fundraiser was all in vain. Keep your enthusiasm high, stay flexible, and lean on each other as you move forward. Be creative! The ways to fundraise are only as limited as your imagination.


Most businesses and individuals will support your efforts. They may not give financially or physically, but they may be wiling to help by posting flyers and sharing the cause with their customers. They may donate their services. They may give their time. But remember, no one will be likely to give if you don’t ask. Start by asking your friends and acquaintances so you can build your confidence and rehearse your story with people more likely to give. And don’t be afraid to leave the door open to creative giving options. “Is there another way you could contribute to this cause?” is a great question to ask every potential donor. 

Make it fun.

People make the best memories when they’re having fun. If you make your fundraiser a celebration event, you’ll raise more money, but more importantly, you’ll build loyalty with the people who attend. Which means you may have just built a fundraiser that can continue for years to come!

How Training Helps a Shelter

Shelters Provide Basic Short-Term Needs

Shelters provide an amazing service to those in need. Every single one works a little bit differently, but the heart to help is their unifying mission. Shelters generally provide the following:

  • A Safe Space. Safety is a shelter’s priority, both for you and any children who come with you.
  • Confidentiality. Your situation and information is yours, and will be kept private unless you grant permission for that information to be shared.
  • Food, Clothing, & Toiletries. Shelters generally provide these necessities for you and your family.
  • Transportation. Most shelters will provide transportation to get you to the shelter. Many times, bus passes are provided to help you get to any appointments or a job.
  • A Place to Sleep. Shelters will provide a bed for you and your loved ones. This may be in a common room or a shared bedroom, but it will be warm, clean, and dry. 
What Shelters Provide

Often these things are provided on a short-term basis. Safe housing programs are typically available for 3-7 days. Homeless shelters can be for up to 6 weeks. Transition programs can last much longer.

Shelters Can Provide Long-Term Assistance

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs acknowledges that our basic needs must come first: food, water, clothing, and shelter. Once these very base needs are met, our safety needs come next: personal security, emotional security, health and well-being, and financial security. The final three layers of the pyramid of needs are belonging, self-esteem, all of which culminates in self-fulfillment. Shelters provide basic needs, and often provide some physical safety.

But what if a shelter could go beyond the basic provisions, and provide tools that could help sustain people for the rest of their lives? What if this could be done without overtaxing the already exhausted shelter workers? What if there were a training that actually helps these workers avoid compassion fatigue and instead helps them build resilience?

Our free Live a Brighter Life curriculum can do just this. In six classes, students will learn to do the following:

  • Set boundaries and define personal space
  • Say no by saying yes differently
  • Uncover self-respect by letting go
  • Uncover a self-compassion that leads to resilience
  • Stand in divine power
  • Reclaim self physically and emotionally by being present

These 6 principals will not only help shelter workers bring their best selves to work each day, it will help them establish firm boundaries that are loving and compassionate to both themselves and to those around them. And these foundational truths will help them learn to rest, refresh, and value themselves in a way that allows them to become their best selves. Live a Brighter Life reshapes perspective. When all workers in a shelter are focused on these principals, decisions will be easier to make, organization will become easier, and because of the overall lift in emotional and physical health, your internal culture will shift.

How Training Helps a Shelter

In turn, shelter workers can pass this knowledge on to all those who come through the doors. Our Train the Trainers program will help your advocates provide the tools to help those in your shelter to learn to stand in their own power, respect themselves first, and teach their children to be their best as well. 

And in turn — step by step — we’ll begin to change our communities and change our world. 

How to Be Strong While Still Being Gentle

When we think of a gentle person, we envision someone who is kind, amiable, and without rudeness

“Nothing is so strong as gentleness, and nothing is so gentle as true strength.” St. Francis De Sales

When we think of a gentle person, we envision someone who is kind, amiable, and without rudeness. 

A gentle person makes no abrupt movements or declarations. He or she is courteous, polite, and soothing to be around. There is no need to be hurried, to be harsh, or to act with violence. A gentle person exudes a quiet confidence. This is a confidence borne from being okay with the world and with what comes your way. It is derived from a calm, quiet mind. The ability to handle those things denotes an inner strength that is often overlooked. This gentle confidence is also evidence that there is a firm awareness of what is right and what is not.

We are gentle with our children — we nurture, educate, and come alongside them with compassion and empathy if they scrape a knee. Yet this gentleness will stand strong in the face of anyone who tries to hurt our children. We have a confidence that standing for them is the right thing to do, and something that we must do. It is born of love, but also conviction that protecting children is worth the effort.

Model Gentle Strength

St. Francis De Sales said, “Nothing is so strong as gentleness, and nothing is so gentle as true strength.” For years, he went about the countryside trying to bring people back to the church. These same people slammed doors in his face and threw rocks at his body. Yet his conviction led him to continually reach out. Eventually, he went to the children. It was his kindness and gentleness with the children that won over the parents and opened the doors of communication. But it was also his persistence in pursuing his beliefs. Wherever we stand on faith, we probably all agree that this quiet man who cared for children was a strong, dedicated man.

Establish Boundaries

Gentleness can be our greatest strength when we are aware of our boundaries and are willing to enforce them. There is safety in knowing where the edges of our boundaries rest. When we’re able to stay within these boundaries, we are gifted with a sense of safety and peace as a result. This boundary enforcement can be gentle while still being firm.

Where should we create boundaries? Boundaries exist in all areas of life. Consider the following general categories:

  • Physical
  • Mental 
  • Emotional
  • Social
  • Spiritual
  • Professional
  • Fun

If we find we’re overwhelmed in any of these areas, there’s a good chance it’s because of a boundary issue. True strength is being able to gently remind ourselves of our own worth, our own needs, and the knowledge that when we honor these things about ourselves, we’ll be able to bring our very best selves to the world. Boundaries might mean taking 10 minutes when we get home from work to sit quietly and write in a gratitude journal. It might mean taking a walk every evening after dinner. It might mean setting time aside to put together a puzzle or practice yoga.

The first step on the path towards true strength is learning to be gentle with ourselves. Complimenting ourselves our own best attributes. Honoring our bodies. Creating a safe space for ourselves. And making room for joy. This is the path that leads to gentle strength.