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23 Teachers Complete Domestic Violence Training to Volunteer at Local Bright Space

January 16, 2019

In October, 23 teachers from Bright Horizons at Mount Olive and Bright Horizons at Rockaway in New Jersey completed domestic violence training so they can volunteer at their local Bright Space.  The Bright Space, called the Lake House, opened in April 2017.  It is located at the Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault Crisis Center of Warren County and is a safe house for mothers and children.

The training, which is required of all volunteers at the domestic violence safe house, is usually a 60 hour training because the volunteers take the families to court, answer the crisis hotline, and other work relating directly to assault survivors.

“Since the volunteers from the centers will be working mainly with the children at the safe house, they received a modified, three-hour training that focused on confidentiality and raised an overall awareness and understanding about the situations and behaviors that might be experienced at the safe house,” said Jenn Cranmer, Director at Bright Horizons at Mount Olive.

“Teachers will go in on the weekends to do activities with the children,” said Jenn.  She hopes to combine what the staff at the safe house knows about dealing with families in crisis, and what her staff knows about dealing with and engaging with children through activities such as making play dough, dressing up, and playing board games.  She plans to implement a rotating volunteers system so a few teachers are able to volunteers each weekend.  There has also been talk of “utilizing the staff so the moms can take classes or participate in activities for themselves, such as yoga,” said Jenn.

The center originally raised over $15,000 for the Bright Space, and was able to redo a neglected, dingy basement playroom.  The Bright Horizons volunteers refitted it with new flooring and walls, and stocked the space with toys and furniture.  Since the Bright Space has been open, Bright Horizons at Mount Olive has maintained a close relationship with the agency, which hasn’t always been easy.  The Lake House has gone through two different directors and a variety of staff since the Bright Space opened, so the center has had to be especially proactive about maintaining a close relationship with them.

Jenn stressed the importance of maintaining a close relationship with the safe house even after the Bright Space opened.  The center has hosted collection drives, visited the Bright Space to check in with the staff to see what they need purchased, and continues to FUNdraise.  This gives them the ability to ask “what do you need, what are you low on,” said Jenn.

The Bright Horizons Foundation for Children is focused on brightening the lives of children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness and other crises. This is done by partnering with shelters and other agencies to create Bright Spaces, where children can play and experience the joys of childhood. For more information, visit our website www.brightspaces.org/. More information about Bright Space Grants, including the application, can be found on our BrightWeb page.