About Us

A Better Way provides shelter and services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, a walk-in Rape Crisis Center, advocacy, individual trauma-informed counseling, support groups, transitional housing, a 24-hour crisis line for persons in any type of crisis, education + referrals, AOK Afterschool programs, a suicide hotline, bullying, teen dating violence and domestic violence prevention 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 (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. A Better Way continues 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.

Board of Directors

Name Role Representation
Debbe Winkle President Owner, ORS Inc.
Sherrie McCowan Vice-President VP, Private Banking, First Merchants Private Wealth Advisors
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
Ed Armantrout Member Assistant Vice President, Old National Bank
Dave Bahlman Member President Emeritus, Ball State University Foundation
William Betts Member Director of Counseling and Health Services, Ball State University
Sue Errington Member Indiana State Representative
Ron Fauquher Member President and CEO of Ontario Systems, LLC.
Mia Johnson Member Dean, Ivy Tech Community College
Leslie Mathewson Member Attorney-President, Mathewson Law, P.C.
Scott McKee Member Regional President, First Merchants Bank
Tony Yakos Member Charter Retirement Planning Counsel, Financial Advisor, Wells Fargo Advisors

A Better Way Statistics for July 2016 – June 2017

157 Adults
105 Children
Average Length of Stay
19.5  Days
Average Daily Population
15  Clients
Highest Monthly Average (September 2016)
21  Clients
60 Adults
28 Children
28 Age 18-24
60 Age 25-35
43 Age 36-46
24 Age 47-57
2 Age 58-68
26 Spouse
11 Ex or Separated Spouse
3 Live In
103 Boyfriend
14 Other
98 Did Not Return to Abuser
6 Returned to Abuser
53 Unknown
12 Women Who Returned to A Better Way
1,242 Crisis Calls
482 Crisis Intakes
184 Domestic Violence Crisis Calls
10,835 Information & Referral
24,232 Emotional Support
3,800 Suicide
86                                        Sexual Assault
2,145 Business
1,843 Other
6,873 Hang Up/Prank
51,722 TOTAL

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.

Budget Information

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
TOTAL                                                $1,751,171

Major Sources of Funding