Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Megan - DTC and community partnerships

I think most everyone has a cause that's close to their heart. Dream Theatre has dedicated several past performances to raising money for the Tree House Humane Society, a wonderful no-kill cat shelter in Andersonville that specializes in caring for sick cats. The heroine of our Season 12 opener, RiO, was a victim of domestic violence and so we linked that show to North Side Community Resources' Victim Advocacy and Support Program, which does life-saving work for domestic violence survivors. 

There are so many organizations out there, like Tree House and NSCR, that provide services that improve the quality of life, and even save lives, and these organizations deserve our recognition and support. Long ago I worked briefly in social services myself, and it was brutal. It was good and necessary service but I burned out after a year. I have nothing but the utmost respect for people who dedicate their careers to helping others, day after day, week after week, because it takes a huge emotional and psychological toll on the provider.

So going forward, for each of our shows DTC would like to partner with one of the many Chicago-based organizations that do this kind of work: work that is hard but work that some depend on to eat, to work, to live. We want to know what community services organizations have made a difference for you or someone you love, so that we can recognize and possibly even help raise funds for them. You can link to these organizations in the comments or privately at megankmerrill at gmail dot com.

Below is what we printed in the program for RiO. We would like to identify our partners early in the season, so that together with each organization we can figure out how best to help them. And thank them.

photo by Megan Merrill

"My name is Mary Graves, and I am a victim of spousal abuse."
-opening line from RiO 
There are lots of people like Mary Graves, including some who are a part of Dream Theatre Company. We wanted to take a moment to talk about domestic violence outside of the play. The way the state of Illinois sees it, if anyone you've lived with or had a relationship with hurts, threatens or abuses you -- physically, emotionally or sexually -- then that is domestic violence and help is available to you. No one should have to do what Mary Graves does: walk for miles and ask strangers for change.
One resource available is North Side Community Resources' Victim Advocacy and Support Program. They will loan you a free phone, so you can contact people without being monitored. They will help you get an Order of Protection to keep your abuser away from you. They will connect you with places to stay, legal representation, medical help and counseling. They will literally hold your hand through a court process that can be confusing and frightening. If you are in an abusive situation but are not yet ready to leave, they will give you a phone, provide you with options and help you create a safety plan to prepare yourself and your loved ones for future unsafe situations. No one will pressure you or judge you; they will support you both before you leave the abuse and after.
If you live with domestic violence -- whether you are male or female, no matter what the relationship to the abuser -- or know someone who needs this help, call them. If you don't, please consider donating to them. They do life-saving work. 
North Side Community Resources
Jennifer Caruso
773-338-7722 x15
Other resources:
Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women's Network: 312-527-0730
Between Friends: 800-603-HELP (24-hour crisis line)
City of Chicago Domestic Violence hotline: 877-863-6338

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