Making a Difference at DAIS

holding hands
Photo by DAIS

One in four women and one in seven men will experience physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. These statistics do not include other forms of abuse, such as emotional or financial, which means even more people endure abuse in their relationships. Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (DAIS) exists because it has to, and because of this, we work to empower those affected by domestic violence and advocate for social change through support, education, and outreach.

DAIS was founded by a small group of committed volunteers over 40 years ago, and what started out as a help line in a church basement has transformed into the DAIS you know today—a public organization that offers a variety of crisis intervention services and prevention and education programs. Volunteers are the foundation of our organization and have supported countless women, children, and men through their darkest times. Last year, 200 DAIS volunteers donated over 10,000 hours to our organization and those we serve. We wouldn’t be able to provide our services and programs without volunteers, and the impact they have made in the lives of people who have experienced domestic violence in our community is remarkable.

Kind, compassionate, and generous are often words used to describe volunteers, and images of helping hands or smiling faces frequently represent them. Most people want to get involved or volunteer in order to give back to their community or make a difference in the lives of the people around them. At DAIS, we use words like believers, advocates, listeners, and supporters to describe our force of volunteers, and they help to create positive changes in the lives of those experiencing domestic violence in our community. They are beacons of light and they are survivors.

Each DAIS volunteer participates in a 26-hour New Advocate Training, program-specific training, as well as observation shifts. We have conversations ranging from barriers to leaving an abusive relationship to the root causes and prevention of violence. During these training sessions, people tend to share their own stories of abuse or maybe what a family member had to endure. A powerful support system is created, and it’s clear that these volunteers are committed to fighting for safety and justice for their loved ones. A long-time DAIS volunteer described her experience like this: “I see volunteering with DAIS as an opportunity to be a lifeline for people who might otherwise feel powerless and alone. We are stronger together than any of us are on our own.”

We are all affected by domestic violence in some way, so it is our responsibility to advocate for and support those who are experiencing violence in their relationships. Here are some ways you can help support the work of DAIS and make sure survivors have the resources they need to live their best lives.

Volunteer

DAIS offers a wide variety of volunteer opportunities ranging from working directly with our clients to sharing our mission at events in the community. Our client-based volunteers provide life-saving services to survivors of domestic violence and their families. These positions include help line advocates, children’s advocates, community response advocates, support group facilitators, and shelter chefs.

Our community-based volunteers use their professional skills and areas of expertise to support our clients and advance the organization’s mission. These positions include career specialists, salon volunteers, donation room volunteers, front desk receptionists, DAIS ambassadors, and event committee members.

Make a Financial Donation

Over half of our budget each year is funded by donations from generous members of the community. Your gift helps keep our doors open for survivors of domestic violence 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can increase the impact of your gift by leveraging these opportunities: employee matching, monthly giving, making a stock gift, and giving through a charitable account or 401k.

Host a Donation Drive

Host a donation drive in your neighborhood or workplace and collect essential items for our shelter residents. Examples of these day-to-day items include personal hygiene products; pajamas for women, men, and children; and diapers.

Adopt a Family

Each year, during the holiday season, community members are matched with a DAIS family that has used our services in the past year and provide them with items from their wish list. Wish list items include gift cards for clothing and groceries, household items, and other gifts and toys for kids.

By supporting DAIS in our work to empower those affected by domestic violence and advocate for social change, you are joining a movement of survivors and allies that are working toward justice for victims of domestic violence across the country and worldwide. At DAIS, you’ll make a difference.

Alyssa Theder is the volunteer & community engagement coordinator at DAIS. She has been with DAIS for two years and has supported the organization’s mission through development and community outreach. Alyssa lives in downtown Madison and is a proud Badger alumna.