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Running to End Domestic Violence

June 3, 2013

mariya picToday’s guest post comes from Mariya Taher, a two term AmeriCorps Alum.

Running to End Domestic Violence. That’s what I did for six months. I live in San Francisco and I work for the anti-domestic violence nonprofit W.O.M.A.N. Inc. – Women Organized to Make Abuse Nonexistent. Last year, our agency went through a financial emergency.

Our programs and services, such as our 24-hour crisis line and case management services were strong, but our funding streams were lacking. A year later, I am happy to report that W.O.M.A.N. Inc pulled through this crisis and the agency is now in a fiscally sound position. In fact, W.O.M.A.N. Inc is in an even stronger financial position than prior to the crisis.

But during the situation, volunteers, staff, and the Board came together to do some basic grassroots fundraising to save our agency. One way in which I helped the agency was by creating a community outreach campaign called “Running to End Domestic Violence Quest”. The campaign consisted of my running 6 half marathon in 6 months with the goal of spreading awareness of domestic violence and the services WOMAN Inc provides to the community, while also fundraising for the agency. In the end, I was able to raise almost $10,000.

None of this would have been possible had AmeriCorps through the Student in Service (SIS) program not introduced me to the world of social services and had I not learned just how important outreach and development is to the health of a nonprofit agency.

San Diego Race

Mariya at the Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon in San Diego, CA.

By serving in the SIS program for two years, I was given the opportunity to build my collaborative skills via my placements with Mentoring for Success and the Department on the Status of Women. During the Running to End Domestic Violence Quest, I recalled these skills to build successful partnerships on a both an individual and organizational level (for instance with a local sporting goods store) to shape the campaign for WOMAN Inc and to ensure that the message, “Everyone deserves to live a violence-free life,” was communicated to the community.

Building community to meet the critical needs of those most vulnerable populations is an invaluable lesson to learn, as well as a vital one when it comes to strengthening a nonprofit’s capacity to help others.  AmeriCorps introduced me to these lessons and in return, I applied these lessons to assist WOMAN Inc in recovering from its financial crisis and to ensure that survivors of domestic violence in the San Francisco Bay Area continued to be served when this vulnerable population reached out for help.

Mariya Taher currently works for W.O.M.A.N. Inc., an agency working to end domestic violence. She also volunteers for the Asian Women’s Shelter, Girls On The Run, and regularly contributes articles on social issues concerning women to RunwayJunkie.com and Global Voices.

She received her Master of Social Work from San Francisco State University, during which time she participated in the Student in Service Program through AmeriCorps. She went to the University of California Santa Barbara for her Bachelor of Art degree where she majored in Religious Studies and double-minored in Global, Peace, and Security & Socio-cultural Linguistics. 

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