Casa Myrna delivers solutions to end domestic and dating violence. Founded in 1977 by community activists, our comprehensive services include:
- A holistic range of bilingual English/Spanish supportive services to help women in crisis rebuild their lives, including a financial empowerment program (SOAR – Stability, Opportunities, Achievements, Results), legal advocacy, community-based advocacy, counseling, and housing search and stabilization.
- Three Boston-based shelters for women and children who are homeless and in crisis due to domestic and/or family violence.
- SafeLink hotline (877-785-2020), the only statewide, 24/7, multilingual domestic violence hotline in Massachusetts.
- Education and outreach workshops for the community and public awareness campaigns on mass transit systems statewide about domestic and dating violence.
The domestic violence survivors we serve are often struggling with many forms of adversity, including poverty, violence and homelessness. Our work supports them as they build better futures for themselves and their children.
Casa Myrna began providing financial empowerment services to survivors in 1999 in response to their need to not just "get safe" but to build long-term financial stability. In 2007, we created the SOAR (Stability, Opportunities, Achievements, Results) Program, which provides survivors with skill-building economic workshops and individual training and advising on basic budgeting and personal finance. It includes assistance with identifying, enrolling in and paying for degree programs, continuing education courses and certificate programs; assistance with opening bank accounts; goal setting to meet realistic short and long-term financial goals; and connections to a network of supportive services at Casa Myrna. Our full-time Self Sufficiency Specialist manages SOAR. In the past year, the program reached 89 survivors.
What Your Purple Purse Gift Will Do…
- $100 – you help a survivor purchase a suit for an interview
- $250 – you give five survivors personalized guidance sessions to enhance their education and job search prospects
- $500 – you provide three hours of basic budgeting and personal finance training to ten survivors
- $1,000 – you help two survivors enroll in an English as a Second Language (ESL) Course
- $2,500 – you sponsor a five-week personal economic planning workshop for ten survivors
Stories from two of our SOAR program participants are below:
Maria left her home in the Dominican Republic and joined her husband in New York, hopeful for a fresh start and new opportunities. Maria’s husband had not been abusing her when they met in the Dominican Republic, and he devoted significant resources for her to make the move to the U.S. legally. Upon arrival, though, she quickly realized the danger of her situation.
Maria came to the United States with a nine-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son from a previous relationship. Her two older children (in their 20s) remained in the Dominican Republic. As soon as Maria and her children moved in to her husband’s home, he began to abuse them verbally. He then refused to provide the children with food, and did not allow them to touch anything in the house. After two weeks, she contacted a friend in Boston, who agreed to let them stay with her for a few days while they searched for other housing options here. Three weeks after arriving in the United States and speaking no English, Maria and her children took a bus to Boston. Maria’s friend suggested that she contact Casa Myrna. Two days later, Maria and her children were able to move to our Mary L. Foreman House emergency shelter.
Maria met with Casa Myrna’s Self-Sufficiency Specialist, Paola. Paola referred her to an English as a Second Language course and helped her open a bank account. Maria was in her mid-40s and had been a stay-at-home mother most of her adult life, so her job experience was limited. Paola worked with Maria to identify job training programs, create a resume and conduct an employment search. Maria quickly secured work in housecleaning and baking. Income from these jobs helped her meet her family’s financial needs in the short-term, while she continued to meet with Paola to set objectives for her longer-term goals of financial independence.
In addition, with the help of Casa Myrna’s Housing Specialist, Maria received a housing voucher specifically for families affected by domestic violence that allows her to live in an apartment in Dorchester until her youngest child turns 18. She moved into her home after living at the Mary L. Foreman House emergency shelter for six months.
Maria is focused on becoming a citizen and bringing her two other children from the Dominican Republic to Boston. She regularly comes to the Casa Myrna office to check in with staff who are a great source of support and stability for Maria and her family.
“I Am Casa Myrna:” Nina’s Story
Nina is originally from Guatemala, and has three teenage sons, one of whom has special needs. In Guatemala, Nina’s husband physically abused her, the children and Nina’s elderly parents. Her husband’s family members also abused her children. Nina came to the United States with her husband, leaving her family in Guatemala until she could help them come here safely.
Upon arrival in the Boston area, the abuse from her husband escalated. He would make several trips back to Guatemala each year and continued to threaten her family. His family members also continued to abuse her children.
Fearing for her safety, Nina contacted Casa Myrna and was able to move to our Mary L. Foreman House emergency shelter.
While living at our residential program, Nina received a full range of Supportive Services from Casa Myrna, including self-sufficiency skills, housing assistance, legal advocacy and counseling. Working with our Self-Sufficiency Specialist in the SOAR (Stability, Opportunities, Achievements, Results) Program was key to making positive changes in Nina’s life. When she arrived in the United States, Nina spoke no English and could not read, having gone to school only through the second grade. Casa Myrna’s Self-Sufficiency Specialist, Paola, arranged for her to take Spanish literacy courses and helped Nina enroll in an English as a Second Language course at the YMCA.
Paola also helped Nina build her resume and develop interviewing skills. Nina found a well-paying job and was able to send money back to her children in Guatemala. She also divorced her husband with support and referrals from Casa Myrna’s Legal Advocacy program.
Nina is now proficient in English, works at the restaurant Chipotle and lives in her own home in Somerville. Her three sons live with her. She continues to meet with our Self Sufficiency Specialist to strengthen her budgeting skills. Nina is thrilled with her accomplishments and excited to continue her journey. She proudly states, “I am Casa Myrna.”