News & Events > News > Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop. Support from Raphael House Is Unwavering During COVID-19
Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop. Support from Raphael House Is Unwavering During COVID-19
Navigating stay-at-home orders during COVID-19 has been a challenge at many different levels. But perhaps one of the most sobering realities of the pandemic is that for those living with or surviving domestic violence, staying at home does not equate to being safe. As soon as the state began its pandemic response, Raphael House of Portland galvanized their staff and donors to ensure that vulnerable community members have consistent and continual access to life-saving domestic violence services.
Founded in 1977, Raphael House is one of the largest domestic violence organizations in Multnomah County. More than 400 survivors in the Portland community rely on Raphael House for emergency shelter, food, hygiene supplies, safety planning, housing, and emergency resources. Tonkon Torp maintains close ties to Raphael House, providing pro bono legal services and expert counsel coordinated by Blerina Kotori, a partner in the firm’s Labor & Employment Practice Group who serves on the Raphael House Board of Directors.
“Survivors are already navigating significant challenges related to domestic violence and their safety, and the impacts of coronavirus have added additional hurdles,” explained Emmy Ritter, Executive Director. “Our advocates have been working around-the-clock to keep our shelter and hotline staffed 24/7 and to connect survivors across the community with the critical resources they need.”
In addition to housing families at their emergency shelter with additional safety precautions such as masks and donor-funded mini fridges for every bedroom to minimize shared kitchen use, Raphael House advocates are delivering food, activity kits, and hygiene supplies directly to survivors' homes across the community. While reduced in-person support is a frustrating reality for the Raphael House team, they shifted gears quickly to maintain their high-volume 24-hour hotline, provide everyone in their programs with wraparound services and emotional support via phone, and host online support groups to add more virtual touchpoints.
We agree with Blerina who said, “The shelter and services provided by Raphael House are more vital now than ever. I’m deeply impressed with how the Raphael House team has mobilized and answered the call to help families affected by domestic violence in these unprecedented times. They’ve done so with grit, grace, compassion, and unwavering commitment to ensure that the right to live violence-free is never suspended for any reason, including a global pandemic.”
Since volunteer shifts have been suspended during the pandemic, one of the best ways the community can help Raphael House continue to support survivor families through this crisis is by contributing to their COVID-19 Response Fund.