Transitional Housing and Support Services

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
The Dwelling Place
City & State:
St. Paul, 
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

The mission of The Dwelling Place is to provide safety and healing to indivduals and families affected by the tragedy of domestic abuse. We will do this by offering safe housing, individual therapy, educational classes, career counseling, permanent housing assistance, and community education.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

The goal of The Dwelling Place is to end the generational cycle of domestic violence through our new Transitional Housing Program. We believe this cycle can and will be broken when women are given adequate resources to heal from the abuse they experienced and become self-sufficient. These resources include education about domestic violence, psychological care, a clearly defined goal plan that breaks goals into easily completed steps, financial education, employment counseling and parenting education. In 2007 we maintained contact with 56% of departing residents. Of these 86% stayed free of abusive relationships for one year after they left our program.

There is a significant shortage of transitional housing in the Twin Cities community. This often results in victims of domestic violence returning to their abusers or going homeless. Our transitional housing program gives underprivileged battered women and children the safety, long-term stability and opportunities they need to become self-sufficient.

In 2009, The Dwelling Place added another house to our Transitional Housing Program, increasing the capacity from 7 to 20 beds and extending the length if stay from 6 to 11 months. The extended stay allows women to benefit from additional support services that equip them with the tools necessary for success. We have partnered with four other non-profit organizations to provide weekly licensed therapy, legal advocacy, and employment and financial services such as skills assessment, job placement training, debt reduction, and budgeting.

To broaden public awareness of our new program, expand funding and educate the community, The Dwelling Place needed to reach out to many more people. Before using the Office package, we had about 2,500 contacts per year. That number grew over 450% to almost 12,000 this past year!

We could not have connected with this many people using our previous methods. The Microsoft Office Professional Plus package donated by the Microsoft and TechSoup program is truly the foundation of our operations and is instrumental to every aspect of our organization.

Outlook keeps us functioning and communicating 24/7. Whether it is arranging transportation for a woman to a doctor’s appointment or attending a speaking engagement, Outlook keeps us going. We depend on the calendar to host the schedule of our intake interviews, volunteer hours, therapy and counseling sessions. The contacts in Outlook can be easily imported into our newsletters and mailings. Synchronizing calendars, e-mails and contacts with a Blackberry allows our on-call staff to have access to critical information 24 hours a day. We would not have been able to enhance the Transitional Housing Program without the infrastructure Microsoft Office and Outlook provides.

Microsoft Word was used to create our new resident in-take forms, goal plans, volunteer forms, and policies and procedures. We love the spell check, thesaurus, editing, grammar and format features! Using Microsoft Word has streamlined our business processes creating consistency and efficiency within our operations for all documents.

The Dwelling Place logo was recently redesigned. We were able to create new branding on all of our letterhead, e-mails and other documents. Consistency of formatting the font and custom colors has been great. The creation of multiple templates was very easy and the appearance of our correspondence is unified and professional.

Sensitive information is protected by controlling the access to certain documents. Only authorized individuals view personal data, a requirement of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This control is frequently a question brought up by funding sources and during audits, and we can confidently ensure compliance.

Microsoft Office is installed on three new computers located in our transitional houses. Children love the games and moms sharpen their job skills. Previously we had two old PC’s purchased in 1998 with out-of-date software. There was not enough RAM or hard drive space to use any current software. A local college donated three new PC’s and the new software donated by Microsoft and purchased on TechSoup was loaded. These donations have made it possible to offer our residents workable, up-to-date computers and software so that they can work on writing resumes, search for jobs, do homework, create a budget, etc. Residents are also able to play music, save photos, play educational games and get trained on all the latest software. In today’s competitive marketplace computer literacy is essential for employment. Now our residents have the necessary resources to obtain required computer skills. A current resident wrote her resume using Word and recently landed a job! Her 3 year old daughter has provided us with lots of art work that we insert into newsletters and appeal letters (see picture to the right).

Our volunteers are essential to us. An Excel spreadsheet tracks hundreds of our volunteers, their expertise, availability, and contact information. We’ve been able to quadruple the number of volunteers used because of the tracking system we put in place. The sorting and graphing features of excel allows us to find the right person for the job. Volunteer retention is up as well.

Our in-kind donations and silent auction items are also tracked using Excel. Keeping these items organized saves us time, and so we are able to raise more money.

Data is analyzed for strategic planning and budgeting in Excel. By using scenarios, goal seek, auditing tools, and the many functions of Excel, such as vlookup, the Board of Directors can have the necessary data to make strategic growth decisions. Individual customized letters or statements can easily be sent using these databases and mail merge.

The Dwelling Place uses Power Point presentations at many speaking engagements and fundraising events. Whether it is slides that warm up a banquet crowd, photo galleries, budget presentations, or technical graphs on domestic violence trends, Power Point presentations are always a part of our engagement. It is easy to incorporate Word, Excel or pictures files into templates that have our logo, colors, and font schemes for a professional appearance. The less time it takes our staff and volunteers to create a presentation, the more time they have to help those in need.

Microsoft Publisher generates our handouts. This program is fast, easy, attractive and inexpensive. Visio illustrates The Dwelling Place’s organization chart, which comes in handy for grant applications.

According to Wilder research, 45% of homeless women report having stayed with an abuser because they had nowhere else to live. This is a choice that no person should ever have to face. The cost to the community is too great if women do not break free from violence. Investing in programs like ours will turn broken, violent families into productive members of society.

Submission Category
Optimize Mission Delivery