JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) – Sequita Brown is dedicating her life to helping survivors of domestic violence or sexual assault in any situation and at any time.
“I love making a difference in people’s lives, even if it’s one person that I’ve helped I feel like I’ve done my job,” said Director of Shelter Operations at AWARE, Sequita Brown.
It’s work that all happens inside this house on Michigan Avenue as part of an organization called AWARE. It’s a shelter-based safe haven where women, men and children can come and stay.
“We’re there for them, and that’s the most important thing,” said Brown.
While here they can get access to community resources such as support groups and legal aid, as well as basic needs items all with a team that’s ready to listen.
“Providing safety and security to survivors and then while they are here you know just providing that support and encouragement and that empowerment is so important,” said Brown.
Leaders for AWARE say the house is oftentimes a last resort for survivors, and for every person that comes through they want to make one thing clear.
“Opening our doors, welcoming them in and telling them we believe what is happening to them in and telling them we believe what is happening to you, we believe your story and we think it’s not your fault,” said Executive Director for AWARE, Angelita Velasco Gunn.
The house can hold up to 30 people and numbers from last year show the need for support is high.
“We’ve fielded 1,000 crisis calls and we had about 300 people coming through the shelter and 133 of those alone were children,” said Velasco Gunn.
Handprints cover the lockers with words of encouragement left behind by the kids who stayed here, messages that go beyond these walls.
“Those are the stories that keep me grounded, when days are hard, keep me grounded and keep me hopeful that yes we are making a difference,” said Velasco Gunn.
Brown wants any survivor to know that they are not alone.
“I’d like to think of us when they arrive here that they are family and that they can come to us for anything even after they leave.”
For ways you can get support from the AWARE house, there is a 24-hour helpline ready to support you. That number is (517) 783-1638. AWARE is set to hold a fundraiser this Saturday at Veritas as part of a Kentucky Derby party. It starts at 5 pm.