To reduce domestic abuse, sexual assault, suicide and homelessness through service, shelter, crisis intervention and prevention initiatives.
A Better Way provides shelter and services for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, a walk-in Rape Crisis Center, mobile advocacy, individual trauma-informed counseling, support groups, transitional housing, rapid re-housing, homeless resources and assistance, a 24/7 suicide and crisis support line, education and referrals, bullying, teen dating violence, and domestic violence prevention programs, and a check-in call service for older or disabled homebound persons.
HISTORY OF A BETTER WAY
A Better Way had its beginnings in 1977 when Marilyn Ginay and Joanne Lindblad became aware of the extent of the domestic violence problem when they were answering calls on the Welfare Department’s information and referral telephone line. They along with Terri Tverdik (Pankey), Muncie’s Human Services Coordinator, convened a community meeting, which led to the formation of a support group.
In 1978, a one-room shelter was opened under the leadership of the three women and a small number of volunteers. In March of 1979, the Muncie YWCA donated space for the shelter, and a grant was received from the Whitewater Valley Presbytery which funded a temporary director. In February 1980, Terri Tverdik was hired as the first executive director. From January to July that year, 212 women and children were sheltered.
Encouraged by United Way, A Better Way merged with Family Counseling Service and Crisis Intervention Center in 1981 to form Family Services of Delaware County, Inc.
In July of 1981, two houses were purchased with a City of Muncie Community Development grant, and the first building was renovated later that year for occupancy and office space. The second house was renovated in 1983 providing a separate shelter facility with 3 bedrooms and one bath with a capacity to house 14 persons. A Better Way operated out of these two buildings until October 1996 when the current building was ready for occupancy with a capacity of 25.
Services added in the 1990s include: children’s services; expanded advocacy services for sexual assault victims; and educational presentations. An endowment for A Better Way was established with The Community Foundation of Muncie and Delaware County in 1997.
In 2001, the Community Information and Crisis Center was consolidated under A Better Way, merging two 24/7 services that are now handled by cross-trained staff.
In the same year, A Better Way received a three-year $400,000 federal grant to start the LOVE and Acts of Kindness (AOK) programs provided at various community pre-schools and former Wilson Middle School.
A four-year $1.9 mil. 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant was received in 2003 from the Indiana Department of Education. During this time, services were provided at Wilson and Northside Middle Schools, and Grissom and Sutton Elementary schools.
In 2004, Passage Way, the 10 apartment transitional housing building for adults and children who are domestic violence victims, was completed and welcomed the first residents.
A Better Way began a new clothing donations policy in 2005. A partnership was formed with the St. Vincent DePaul Society in Muncie. Clients receive vouchers for free clothing for themselves and their children.
A Better Way is also a participating member of the Delaware County Sexual Assault Response Team. This is a collaborative effort with several other agencies who strive to provide the most comprehensive services possible to survivors of sexual assault in Delaware County. Other participating agencies include the Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office, IUBMH-SANE, Muncie Police Department, Muncie Victim Advocate Program, and the Delaware County SMART team.
Teresa Clemmons has been the Director of A Better Way since 1995 and has been the agency Executive Director since 2007. In 2007, the agency name was changed from Family Services of Delaware County, Inc, to A Better Way Services, Inc. The current emphasis is to put the agency on more solid financial ground through active board fund development.
All regular ABW staff received ASIST suicide prevention training in 2009. A Better Way now answers calls for the 24-hour National Suicide LifeLine at 1-800-273-TALK. Newer staff members now receive the SafeTalk training to enable them to assist callers undergoing a suicidal crisis.
In 2012, an additional support group was created specifically to meet the needs of sexual assault survivors. This group seeks to provide a safe, comforting place for survivors to meet with one another to begin or continue on their journey of healing and recovery.
With the start of 2014, A Better Way joined in the national initiative to begin reducing the restrictive effects of excess rules plaguing domestic violence shelters across the nation. This effort strives to focus on empowering survivors of domestics violence by giving them the freedom and the tools to regain control of their own lives once again. It places an emphasis on promoting guidelines for healthy, cooperative interactions within the shelter environment without enforcing a defined set of ‘rules’ for how clients should live.
From January 2016 to January 2018, A Better Way served as a back-up call center for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Network resulting in an average of 27,000 suicide/crisis calls handled each year. After January 2018, A Better Way continued to serve as a Regional Suicide Hotline for a nine-county area.
At the beginning of January 2018, with funds provided by The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, A Better Way became a Rape Crisis Center, providing walk-in services, on-site counseling, safety planning, protective order assistance, and more to victims of rape and sexual assault.
In 2020, A Better Way covered 37 counties in Indiana for the National Suicide Lifeline and adopted chat services in September of that year.
In 2021, suicide hotline services expanded even further to cover a total of 56 counties in Indiana through the National Suicide Lifeline.
A Better Way acquired Genesis of Richmond, IN, and now provides shelter and services for victims located in Blackford, Delaware, Fayette, Henry, Jay, Randolph, Union, and Wayne counties.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Chief Operating Officer, IU Health East Central Region
Director of Corporate Social Responsibility, First Merchants Bank
Deb Williams, CPA
Controller, Ohio Valley Gas Corp.
CEO, Open Door Health Services
President/CEO, Muncie Mission
Director of Counseling and Health Services, Ball State University
Co-Founder, Retired CEO, Ontario Systems
Executive Director of Workforce Partnerships, Community Engagement and Communications, Ivy Tech Community College
Gill Bros. Furniture - Owner
Sara Shade Hamilton
Attorney at Law
Retired, Board Member
Chief Customer Officer, Boyce Systems
Administrative Associate and Office Manager, Indiana Trust Wealth Management
Business Owner, ORS Inc.
120 Adults Served
69 Children Served
26 IU BMH/Reid DV Response
29 Protective Orders Granted
118 Adults Served
62 Children Served
136 Adults & Children
SA Victims Served
15 SA Survivors (In Shelter)
32 SA Survivors (Self Referrals)
IU BMH SART Responses
13 Returned to ABW
Relationship to Abuser
16 Ex or Separated Spouse
45 Intimate Partner
After Leaving Shelter
55 Did Not Return to Abuser
13 Returned to Abuser
Ages of Residential Clients
0 Age 16
19 Age 18-24
36 Age 25-35
33 Age 36-46
21 Age 47-57
9 Age 58-68
2 Age 69+
CALL & CHAT DATA
8,164 Emotional Support
5,252 Information & Referral
1,288 Domestic Violence Related
127 Sexual Assault Related
1,436 Crisis Calls
MAJOR SOURCES OF FUNDING
SAS Formula Grant/STOP Formula Grant Program:
This project was supported by subgrant No. SAS – 6226, STOP – 6227 awarded by the state administering office for the STOP Formula Grant Program/SAS Formula Grant Program. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the state or the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.