WINGS Program & CEO, Rebecca Darr: Breaking the Cycle of Domestic Violence
The WINGS program provides domestic violence survivors with support to gain safety and future success. WINGS started in 1985 as a non-profit housing agency providing both emergency shelter and transitional housing. Now, WINGS has grown to provide not only assistance to those in immediate crisis, but also help clients with long-term services to help them move towards self-sufficiency and confidence.
CEO Rebecca Darr has been with WINGS for nearly 20 years and under her leadership, the program has experienced a great period of growth. The WINGS program opened three new resale stores to generate revenue to support its programs including housing, mentoring, counseling, and children’s services. Darr also spearheaded the WINGS mission to build the first domestic violence shelter in Chicago’s northwest suburbs in 2005. Read more about Darr’s vision for WINGS and continuing to improve domestic violence awareness and advocacy programs here https://wingsprogram.com
WINGS opened another shelter – Chicago Metro – on Chicago’s southwest side in 2016. When WINGS Metro opened, it expanded the number of beds available to families seeking shelter by more than 35 percent. WINGS Metro was constructed on the site of a former police station. It features a special meditation garden named for Brenda Sexton, a Chicago police officer who worked out of that station, and was murdered by her boyfriend in 2000. In addition to the meditation garden, WINGS Metro has a children’s playroom, computer lab, laundry facilities and an outdoor playground sponsored by the Chicago Bears.
The two Safe Houses can house 85 people each night, providing a safe haven for victims and their children. Safe Houses provide temporary shelter, safety planning, food, and clothing. The WINGS advocates who staff the Safe Houses can help residents access further critical services to help them achieve a safe and independent life.
The WINGS Safe Houses provide an initial safe housing solution for victims who have just escaped domestic violence for up to 120 days. WINGS further help residents by providing long-term housing solutions to further assist victims with their journey in rebuilding their lives. WINGS has 47 houses and apartments throughout the Chicago metropolitan area. Residents are able to utilize these housing options for up to two years. WINGS also offers permanent housing for individuals with disabilities.
Beyond emergency and long-term housing, WINGS provides services to empower victims to further gain independence. Mental health counselors are available for adults and children to help cope with the trauma and other issues that may affect their well-being. Addressing the specific needs of children who have escaped domestic violence requires special care. WINGS provides specific services for children including behavior assessments, art and play therapy, and relationship building.
Domestic violence survivors need many kinds of support and the dedicated team at WINGS works together to not only provide a safe haven but to break the cycle of domestic violence. Residents can count on WINGS to connect them with legal assistance, job skills training, and mentoring – anything they might need to achieve their hopes for a brighter future.
The WINGS mentoring program provides ongoing support for those who have completed their two-year program and achieved self-sufficiency. WINGS provides training and ongoing support to mentors while they provide one-on-one encouragement to women seeking a better life and financial stability.
The WINGS mentoring program includes Advocating for Latinas Achieving Self-Sufficiency (ALAS). ALAS services Latina women by providing specific services to develop towards self-sufficiency. Support Groups, Parenting Groups, English classes, and more activities are available.
The WINGS mission to break the cycle of domestic violence is able to continue thanks to continued support. Volunteering, donating to WINGS resale shops, in-kind donations, financial support, event sponsorship, donation drives, and planned to give all contribute to the continued success and growth of WINGS programs and its clients. The three WINGS resale shops alone account for 25 percent of their budget. Click here https://wingsprogram.com for more information about how you can help.