As October draws to a close (how did that happen?) I want to take this opportunity to thank you all for your help and support in spreading the word, both about Violence UnSilenced’s new non-profit evolution and about National Domestic Violence Awareness Month–and to ask you, once again, to take action. Violence UnSilenced is a wholly grassroots effort and so every single post, tweet, retweet, Facebook link and support badge ensures this forum continues to provide a platform for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse all year long. Thank you isn’t big enough, and the import of your continued readership cannot be overstated.
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. All across the country, people are wearing purple ribbons and gathering at survivor speak-outs to do what we do every day here at Violence UnSilenced–refuse to be silent about interpersonal violence. Awareness creates change, and we’ve seen that principle at work in the Violence UnSilenced community. In honor of this awareness month, Violence UnSilenced is making a huge and amazing change. Our outstanding community of writers and readers has strengthened this site for 2 ½ years, and now we are ready to take it to the next level.
I’m excited to announce that this month Violence UnSilenced is becoming an official non-profit organization!
This is a dream come true because now the structure of Violence UnSilenced will match its mission of serving the community. Up until now, I have owned the site as an individual and that gave VU a strong start, but could limit VU’s growth. A non-profit structure is stronger, more empowered and will allow us to expand our reach even further. It’s time to make that change–and although change is essential, it needs to be done thoughtfully and respectfully.
In order to guide VU’s development, I’ve gathered a stellar Board of Directors to serve as stewards and advisers. I am absolutely in awe of their talents, expertise and commitment to our mission. They are bravely stepping forward as leaders who believe in the power of the blogging community to foster awareness and change, and as directors widely known for rolling up their sleeves to get things done. Please join me in welcoming our new board.
2011-2012 Violence UnSilenced Board of Directors
We will be adding to this core group and forming other community committees and advisory groups to help reach all of our dreams for VU. We will give you a better introduction to the board members throughout the month of October, so please stay tuned! For now, I am deeply indebted to these women for their service.
A brand new look
You may have also noticed by now a more obvious change–the brand new masthead (if you’re a regular here, refresh your browser). This site was originally designed and hosted pro bono by the talented Samantha at Temptation Designs, for which I will be forever grateful. Sam believed in VU from the start, and donated countless (literally… I can’t count them) hours to launch and maintain and promote VU. Sam has now handed off the baton to VU board member volunteer Schmutzie (a.k.a. Elan Morgan), co-founder of Ninjamatics, who got started by designing the brand new masthead and the 2011-12 badges! (See next section). Elan will continue to lend her skills to keep VU fresh and relevant, and she will be aided behind the scenes by fellow board member and webmaster extraordinaire Shannon (aka Mr. Lady).
I would like to issue a thank you to another past volunteer, Mojo, a North Carolina-based photographer and blogger, who has tirelessly handled all of the technical questions that have arisen along the way up until now. He also created a short promotional video, designed additional badges currently in use on dozens of blogs and websites, and promoted VU every chance he got. Even though we are streamlining the badges for 2011-12, I remain in debt to his generous spirit and all he has done for VU thus far.
Finally, I need to give a special shout-out to VU board member Deb Rox. Deb is brilliant, and in addition to her extensive background with domestic violence advocacy and non-profit development she truly, truly gets the grassroots power of the blogosphere and how it best connects with companies. Through her new consulting agency, Platform, she has steered this non-profit evolution–and she has done it all pro bono.
Thank you all for your service, past and present.
A huge thank you to BizFilings
Violence UnSilenced’s work this month, and our grand evolution to non-profit status, is made possible by the generous sponsorship of BizFilings. Becoming a non-profit corporation is a rather amazing and involved process. It is incredibly useful and instructive to formalize and professionalize, but it was daunting to me until I learned that help is readily available. BizFilings is an online service that makes it easy for small businesses and organizations to file for incorporation, stay compliant with various state filing processes, and manage the legalities of their business or agency. They have a wealth of tools online in their massive Learning Center, and specialists by phone help guide you through the applications. BizFilings demystifies and makes accessible the steps needed to professionalize your work, so at their core they are a very empowering company and we are honored they stepped up to help VU.
What can you do?
The new Board of Directors joins me in inviting you to spread the word about Violence Unsilenced this month during Domestic Violence Awareness Month. We have several things in the works, and invite you to check back to this post in the coming days and weeks.
1. Take (or recommit to) the Violence UnSilenced pledge to support survivors
As many of you already know, here at VU we pledge to listen and leave supportive comments for the survivors who share their stories on this site. In the past we linked to all of you in a big long list–from here on out, we will rebuild the list each year as we all annually recommit our pledge to the survivors.
If you’ve never taken the pledge before, now is the perfect time. If you’ve taken the pledge in the past, please grab a new badge and renew your commitment!
It’s easy: just grab the code on this page and put it in play on your blog or website; share it with your Google+ or Facebook fans; or install it as an email signature. Get creative! Then email us to let us know you’ve renewed your commitment. In return we will add your name (with hotlink) to the new 2011 “Show Your Support” page, where all of the survivors can see that they are heard and supported.
We are offering two different pledge badges this year, one for survivors and one for supporters. “I’m UnSilenced” means many things to many people. If you are a survivor, speaking out here means you are “unsilenced.” For the rest, you are aligned to the cause. You are Violence UnSilenced. You are making wonderful things happen for VU and the lives of all of the survivors it reaches. Without you, there is no VU. It’s as simple as that.
2. Like us on Facebook.
3. Follow the brand new (as in just yesterday!) Violence UnSilenced company page on LinkedIn.
4. Follow Violence UnSilenced on Twitter.
5. Speak Out on Violence UnSilenced about your own story of abuse so that other survivors will know they’re not alone, and the rest of us will be further educated.
6. Visit VU regularly and leave supportive comments for each survivor. We realize that some of these stories may leave you speechless, but even something as simple as “I’m here” or “Thank you” means the world to survivors.
7. Continue to speak out against domestic abuse, sexual abuse, and sexual assault in your own communities. Every single voice matters.
Back in February 2009 when Violence UnSilenced launched it was immediately embraced by the personal blogging community, finding new readers along the way and evolving into a rich network committed to awareness, healing and change. VU came from us, easily, organically, because we genuinely cared about each other. Because we had stories to share, and because we understood the power in speaking out. This is an important distinction to me because VU has always been first and foremost by the people, for the people. It has been about the survivors and the storytelling. Period. That tenet, the core of our mission, will never change.
I don’t have words to describe how exciting this is, and I’m looking forward to sharing more about all the possibilities the new non-profit status and my new role as Executive Director will afford. For now, know that the mission remains the same and the people fostering this evolution are wholly aligned with said mission. I feel so confident in this group, and so charged up about what the board and the community will be able to do together in service to Violence UnSilenced.
With deep, deep gratitude and joy,Maggie Ginsberg-Schutz Founder, Violence UnSilenced