Jeffrey Friedman

Posted on 05 June 2009

The new executive director for The Retreat on the effect of the economy on spousal abuse,rehabilitating offenders and the unfortunate need for his work.

How has your experience been at The Retreat so far?

It has been a very positive experience; the Retreat has a long, rich history of providing domestic violence services to the community. We have been providing domestic violence services to the community for over 20 years. It is such a valuable service to our community. If I could categorize our service I would say they would be transformative. The Retreat helps these women and children, in crises situations, leave with hope.

 

The budget for The Retreat is just over $2 million, your website says that over half of this is raised through individual contributions, how important are these individual contributions during the current economic recession and in the face of widespread state and local budget cuts?

What is important to say is that over the past 12 months we have seen an increase of about 40% in requests for services from women in crisis. We are seeing a drying up of local funding, and the money we fundraise from the community is so important. It allows us to continue offering these services to women and children in the community.

 

You said that you have seen an increase of about 40% in requests for services from women in crises. What services in particular have seen an increase in demand?

We have seen it across the board, what we have seen is that as the economic downturn continues we have seen domestic violence increase. When people are at risk of losing their jobs…it creates an environment conducive to family violence. The women that seek our services look for among other things counseling, legal advocacy and shelter.

 

There are a number of upcoming events to benefit The Retreat, how much financial support can be expected from these events?

I am glad you mentioned them; they are so important for us as an agency to allow us to sustain ourselves. What is coming up that is most exciting is the 14th Annual Artists Against Abuse event this June 27, our largest annual fundraiser, which will be hosted by Kelsey and Camille Grammer. It’s an art event and an art action, that’s held on the grounds of the Ross School. People can bid on art from local and renowned artists. All this information is on our web site.

 

SHARP (Structured Help Anti-violence Re-education Program) is a counseling service for men who have had a history of abusive tendencies, how important do you believe this counseling is?  

I think it is extremely important in trying to fulfill our mission. Part of our mission statement is trying to break the cycle of family violence. In order to accomplish this we need to provide some of our services to that part of the population. We try to work with them through support groups and counseling.

 

In your experience does this reform and rehabilitation prevent the possibility of repeat offenders?

Well you certainly see a large percent of offenders repeating, but we have seen some offenders stop. The program does work. These offenders can develop healthy, violence-free relationships.

 

Are there any unexpected challenges that you have come across in your new position?

I wouldn’t say it is unexpected, but the challenge we are always facing, and now in particular, is the severe economic crisis. We are facing a situation we have not seen since the Great Depression. This directly affects non-profits in a real, concrete way, when donations are down and funding gets cut…it is very scary to think about someone in a crisis situation getting abused who cannot get help.

 

 

Is The Retreat applying for grants from the Federal Stimulus Package recently passed by Congress?

We are applying for stimulus money. We have a couple of grant applications in to access funds.

 

What facet of The Retreat do you believe is the most important?

The most important is that we are the only domestic violence shelter on the East End. We don’t take one approach to domestic violence we take multiple approaches. It is important that we provide shelter, counseling and advocacy to people in crises.

 

The Retreat opened locally in 1987 and later expanded to cover the entire East End in 1995, as the new Executive Director do you see further opportunity for geographic expansion?

I think for right now we are a community based organization. Our focus right now is to provide comprehensive coverage to the East End. We are located out here and our real focus is to serve the people of our community. We do get referral cases from out of state, we get calls from other parts of Long Island. We do provide services to anybody in need.

 

Are there any new directions you would like to take The Retreat as Executive Director?

The services we provide are essential, but we need to find and secure funding for transitional services. On average people stay in our shelter for 90 days, once they leave…it’s very expensive to find a place and live on Long Island. We need to find funding for six-month transitional housing, and get them hooked up with vocational training. We need to help these women be more independent and live a life with less stress. Ninety days is really a quick time table and we need to find a time table that is a little bit longer. 

 

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One Response to “Jeffrey Friedman”

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