Daystar helps battered women improve health, education, income and housing stability by providing two years of housing support and services.
Daystar has been serving battered women in the Milwaukee region for 25 years. That’s enough time to build a legacy, and ours can be found in the faces of the women whose lives have been transformed as a result of Daystar services.
Lisa was only 24 when she came to Daystar; Dana was 47. One stayed for eight months, the other for a year and a half. Both were enrolled in college and having their dreams for the future threatened by the violence of an intimate partner. Both decided they wanted it to stop. At Daystar, each woman got the time and support she needed, and they left Daystar equipped with degrees that would enable them to lead lives of peace and independence.
Daystar’s residents are diverse. The only two things they all have in common is victimization and poverty. But because the pursuit of education, employment, health and housing are built into the program framework, virtually every resident enrolled for service makes measurable progress toward some goal designed to address barriers to independence and improve prospects for employment and stable housing.
Less measurable, though no less critical, is the emotional healing and character development fostered inside the Daystar program. Women enter wounded and raw into a climate of forced cooperation. Conflict ensues and is resolved through communication and compromise. The sharing of food and chores becomes a sharing of culture and history and pain and joy.
Friendships are formed, and residents learn to delight as much in the success of another as in their own. Group celebrations mark significant achievements, like a month free of cigarettes, or a job interview scheduled, or an “A” grade hard-earned. Ann lends clothes to Barb, who has a job interview; Carol helps Diane figure out how to use the software provided for her class. When Ellen finds out that her daughter from out of state has been hospitalized with cancer, the entire house goes into a scramble to help her get to the airport on time.
We don’t try to quantify or measure the emotional healing that takes place at Daystar. We haven’t yet identified a tool that would enable us to do that. We are content to observe it, and to document it in the only way we know how by sharing those observations with others who share our vision.
Looking back over the year, we recently posed this question to one of our residents: “When was the last time you felt as safe and secure as you feel here, right now?”
“Never” she said, “Never.”
This is Daystar. And this is what can be accomplished with your support.
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