A Better Way provides shelter and services for victims of domestic violence, transitional housing, advocacy for victims of sexual assault, a 24-hour crisis line for persons in any type of crisis, AOK after-school academic and character building programs, and a check-in call service for elderly 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 programs provided at various community pre-schools and 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. Services are currently 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.
In addition to providing a suicide hotline for a nine county area, A Better Way became a back-up call center for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Network in 2016, resulting in over 26,350 suicide/crisis calls handled during this one year alone.
Board of Directors
|Ed Armantrout||President||Assistant Vice President, Old National Bank|
|Debbe Winkle||Vice-President||Owner, ORS Inc.|
|Shannon Staton, MSW, LSW||Secretary||Assistant Professor and Practicum Coordinator, Department of Social Work, Ball State University|
|Jean Drumm, CPA||Treasurer||Certified Public Accountant, Drumm & Company|
|Jan Abbs||Member||US General Counsel, Element Materials Technology|
|Dave Bahlman||Member||President Emeritus, Ball State University Foundation|
|Leslie Mathewson||Member||Attorney-President, Mathewson Law, P.C.|
|Sue Errington||Member||Indiana State Representative|
|Scott McKee||Member||Regional President, First Merchants Bank|
|Sherrie McCowan||Member||VP, Private Banking, First Merchants Private Wealth Advisors|
|Tony Yakos||Member||Charter Retirement Planning Counsel, Financial Advisor, Wells Fargo Advisors|
A Better Way Statistics for July 2016 – June 2017
|Average Length of Stay|
|Average Daily Population|
|Highest Monthly Average (June 2016)|
|AGES OF RESIDENTIAL CLIENTS
|RELATIONSHIP TO ABUSER
|11||Ex or Separated Spouse|
|AFTER LEAVING A BETTER WAY
|98||Did Not Return to Abuser|
|6||Returned to Abuser|
|12||Women Who Returned to A Better Way|
|184||Domestic Violence Crisis Calls|
|10,835||Information & Referral|
|86 Sexual Assault|
Program Performance (July 2016 – June 2017)
- 23 protective orders were issued during this period.
- 166 students attended AOK at least 30 days for Middle School students and 60 days for Elementary School students.
Operational Expenses July 1, 2016- June 30, 2017
Passage Way Housing Program $178,226
AOK Afterschool Program $342,288
Shelter Services $1,139,505
Management & General $91,152
Major Sources of Funding – $10,000 or More
- Alpha Chi Omega
- Ball Brothers Foundation
- Community Foundation of Muncie and Delaware County
- Family and Social Services Administration
- Federal Emergency Management Agency
- Gill Brothers Furniture
- Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority
- Indiana Criminal Justice Institute
- Indiana Department of Education
- Kitselman Foundation
- Muncie Community Development
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- Region VII – Regional Services Council
- Texas Roadhouse
- United Way of Delaware County