Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Powerful Impact People: A day in the life of Peggy Pisano (Milford Rape Crisis Center)

Thursday was a typically untypical day for Peggy Pisano, the executive director of the Milford Rape Crisis Center.  Having met her months earlier at a fund raising event, I knew she was a focused and caring person who has been with the center for over 30 years.  She started out as a volunteer and then became the multi-disciplinary team coordinator for the Ansonia/Milford judicial district in 2002.  This team is one of 15 in the state that deals exclusively with cases of child sexual and physical assault and serious neglect.  In 2007 she became the center’s executive director and so I wanted to find out what a day in the life of this woman with the sparkling blue eyes was like.

Peggy had moved here from another state and belonged to the Milford Newcomers Club.  A speaker came from Milford Rape Crisis, Eloise Macaluso, and Peggy realized she really wanted to help women and the community. She quickly learned that the Center not only helps women but also men and children through the multi-disciplinary team.

Her Thursday started by working on administrative tasks like the quarterly report, which narrates this non-profit’s progress over the last quarter, including their speaking engagements, outreach, cases, trends and problems. 

The Milford Rape Center was awarded a three-year grant through the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven to assist them in continuing their work providing services to victims of sexual assault and community education programs. Additionally, on November 1st, the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven is launching an online resource for non-profits (giveGreater.org), where people can view 50 different non-profits, make donations, and read particular information on them.

In the afternoon, her duties shifted to dealing with some cases. One case was with an ongoing client who she has been counseling for a number of months; another case involved responding to a long-time client who had issues that were resurfacing. While any success, from helping sexual assault victim to more administrative tasks like helping the center get a grant, is gratifying’ it’s obvious that her heart belongs with helping sexual assault victims.

As evening approached, she prepared for the training with new volunteers.  This 3-hour training took place at Griffin Hospital and was attended by 20 new prospective volunteers. During the training, she trained them in the use of Serchie 100 rape kit, for the collection of evidence in the sexual assault cases. With her co-worker, Advocate Cindy Dugan, she helped train these volunteers in the 14 steps required, ranging from what to do when you first meet with someone in the emergency room to how to deal with police reports.  The trainings are ongoing through Oct 28th where they will become state certified sexual assault councilors, manning hotlines and assisting in counseling.  Advocate Sheila Richards facilitated a wide variety of leaders for the trainings, including the Milford Police Department, Griffin Hospital, Shelton police officers, and Kevin Lawlor, the State’s Attorney for the Ansonia/Milford Judicial District.

When I asked Peggy who the perfect volunteer for her non-profit would be, she listed someone who is a good listener, empathetic, and who doesn’t form moral judgments about people. Being able to handle difficult situations and giving correct information are key, as well as being someone who can respond to an emergency situation, sometimes at 3am.  She emphasized that not everyone is able to handle that kind of work.

We are all certainly lucky and grateful that Peggy is.

Upcoming events:  Indoor Golf Tournament (Feb) and Walk a Mile in her Shoes (April)

Founded in 1974, the Rape Crisis Center of Milford is a not-for-profit social service agency working to end sexual violence through victim assistance, prevention, education and public policy advocacy.   The Center provides services to the towns of Ansonia, Derby, Milford, Orange, Seymour, Shelton, and West Haven . All services are provided at no cost to the community.

MOST SUCCESSFUL FUND RAISING EVENT: Walk a Mile in Her Shoes-- visit the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes page on the Milford Rape Crisis Center webpage for more information


Are they paying attention?

It's extremely difficult to figure out why people pay attention to your literature and why they might throw out your brochure, leave your site... but in fact, this is fertile territory for dramatically increasing donations. You won't find what's broken if you don't look.
Find a savvy 20 year old who would like to donate a few hours to assessing your website for “user friendliness” or “wordiness”.  Remember that this is the generation who grew up online and who have attention spans that need to be stimulated with short bursts of information.
If you are willing to listen to their feedback, you may not only get more donors, but you might also get more 20 year olds volunteering for your cause.

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