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Geographical Isolation and Serving Diverse Populations – Taking on the Challenge

cropped-map-2Tri-Valley Haven is located in Eastern Alameda County, one of the wealthiest and least diverse areas of the county. Geographically isolated from the rest of the county by the Dublin Grade, our shelter population is vastly more diverse than the area in which we are located. Because of this isolation, shelter residents often tell us they feel especially safe from their abusers in the Tri-Valley.

It is an ongoing struggle for us to attract and retain a diverse shelter staff at a nonprofit salary rate that does not support someone who is living alone or a single parent in our immediate service area. Most of our new staff members live out of the area, either “over the hill” in less expensive parts of Alameda County, in the Brentwood/Antioch area or in Stockton. Staff turnover is more frequent than we would like, most often because these staff members find employment closer to home.

obj40-1Despite these challenges, we are pleased that we have been able to increase the diversity of our staff to try to better reflect the population we serve. When we have a job opening, we advertise widely, and share the job listing with statewide coalitions such as CPEDV and CalCASA in order to reach all of our sister organizations.

We have also greatly benefitted from participation in learning collaboratives such as the Fostering Cultural Competency project, funded by Blue Shield. Through this project, we made connections with other organizations outside of our service area that have expertise in working with specific Asian populations who shared information with us and remain a source of support that we can access when working with a client from a culture we are unfamiliar with. We also had the opportunity to learn about more resources in our own community when each agency in the project convened a panel discussion of representatives from local Asian communities to discuss how domestic violence is viewed and addressed within these communities.1

We look forward to participating in the Next Generation project in which we will share  our experiences with other agencies, and further develop our support system .

Vicki Thompson

Director of Domestic Violence Services

Tri-Valley Haven

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