For the fourth year in a row, the Women of Steel from United Steelworkers Local 9464 in Niagara Falls came together to collect toiletries, more than 200 pillows, and other items for the people served by Passage House.
A reveal event took place Friday morning.
“I am so grateful for the way the community has come together for this collection,” Women of Steel Chairwoman Brook D’Angelo said. “Other unions, friends, medical offices and many more have come forward with their own contributions. I hope that our efforts will supply the women and children of Passage House with comforts that inspire a new beginning.”
The initiative is part of a mission to better the community by encouraging charitable contributions.
City of Niagara Falls employees requested the drive begin earlier this year, in October, anticipating the needs of the domestic violence shelter.
D’Angelo said, “When speaking to Passage House Director Larissa Bachman, we learned that the 160 pillows that we contributed last December have already been used. We are heartbroken by this statistic, but are glad that Passage House exists as a refuge for victims of domestic violence. We asked if there was more that we could to do help.”
Bachman said, “It’s so significant. And it’s important, because I think more people are realizing the importance of sometimes what a small-, large- or medium-sized donation can do for a family in need.
“And our services continue to grow. We continue to serve more and more people, more and more survivors, both adults and children. The more we have received is very helpful, because it goes directly to those families.
“We survive off of donations, so for us this is just incredible. We’re just so appreciative and thankful.”
Pictured, from left, at Friday’s reveal: Women of Steel members Brook D’Angelo (far left) and Rosanna Lively (far right) flank Passage House’s Nicole Brady, Karrie Gebhardt and Larissa Bachman. Also shown, below, are some of the donated items. (Photos by Joshua Maloni)
D’Angelo said Bachman expressed a need for cleaning supplies this year, which were added to the collection list. With the help of Kith & Kin Bakeshop in Lockport, Women of Steel was able to collect buckets, and more than 50 brooms and dustpans.
Locals who saw the information about the drive on Facebook even dropped off cleaning supplies and toiletries to the City of Niagara Falls Department of Public Works collection site on New Road.
Other baskets for collection were placed in: Niagara Falls Community Development, the Main Street Library, human resources, city clerk’s office, the water board administration/wastewater and fire administration offices.
Passage House is a 15-bed domestic violence shelter serving individuals in Niagara County. It provides free emergency shelter in a confidential location to those who are victims of domestic violence and their children. The shelter is staffed 24/7 and someone is available to respond to the needs of victims of domestic violence and their children any time of the day or night.
Additionally, the program provides crisis intervention and counseling services to victims of domestic violence and their children in a safe, secure, comfortable, home-like setting, so that the healing process can begin.
So far this year, Passage House has served more than 135 women and children. It has taken 557 hotline calls as of Dec. 1.
In reflecting on 2018, Bachman said, “There’s always an awareness factor that we’re trying to get out there into the community. We have our events in October, and we do trainings throughout the year to tell the community, whether you’re professionally affected or personally affected, how we can help.
“We can help survivors of domestic violence and their children. That could be in many different ways. Sometimes it’s just being somebody to talk to; maybe it’s somebody working at a community agency; in working with a survivor and linking them to something; or maybe it’s somebody in the community donating, like here, that goes to survivors directly to help them in their next phase of their journey.
“That helps somebody when they can come to our shelter, and they have what they need – their basic needs. When they’re fleeing, in fear of their life, they don’t have to worry about body wash and razors and pillows. They can come to us and we have those things, basic needs, met for them. And that when they move out, and have their own apartments or whatever it is that they’re looking for, that they can take some things with them and feel comfortable starting over, and not have to have that extra layer of worry.
“That’s a continued need, and it continues to grow. I’m sure with 2019 – with all of these donations – luckily, we’ll be able to help a lot of people in this way.”
For more information on Passage House, visit https://pinnaclecs.org/our-services/domestic-violence-services/.
Passage House is a program of Pinnacle Community Services.
Managing Editor Joshua Maloni contributed to this report.