About

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

Sherrie McCowan

Sherrie McCowan

VP, Private Banking, First Merchants Private Weath Advisors

President

Lori Luther

Lori Luther

Chief Operating Officer, IU Health East Central Region

Vice-President

Leslie Mathewson

Leslie Mathewson

Homeless Representative Attorney, President of Mathewson Law, P.C.

Secretary

Deb Williams, CPA

Deb Williams, CPA

Controller, Ohio Valley Gas Corp.

Treasurer

 

Jan Abbs

Jan Abbs

US General Counsel, Element Materials Technology

Member

Chantille Allen

Chantille Allen

Member

Bibi Bahrami

Bibi Bahrami

Office Assistant, American Health Network

Member

William Betts

William Betts

Director of Counseling and Health Services, Ball State University

Member

Jean Drumm

Jean Drumm

Certified Public Accountant, Drumm & Company

Member

Ron Fauquher

Ron Fauquher

President and CEO of Ontario Systems, LLC.

Member

Jennifer Gasiorek

Jennifer Gasiorek

Executive Director of Workforce Partnerships, Community Engagement and Communications, Ivy Tech Community College

Member

Scott McKee

Scott McKee

Regional President, First Merchants Bank

Member

Shannon Staton

Shannon Staton

Associate Lecturer of Practice and Director of Field Education, Department of Social Work, Ball State University

Member

Debbe Winkle

Debbe Winkle

Business Owner, ORS Inc.

Member

STATISTICS

CLIENT DATA


Residential Clients

168           Adults Served
107          Children Served

Non-Residential Clients

141          Adults Served
37          Children Served

Support Groups

200        Adults & Children

SA Victims Served

184           Clients

IU BMH SART Responses

59           Clients

Repeat Victimization

29           Returned to ABW

CLIENT DATA


Relationship to Abuser

40          Spouse
06           Ex or Separated Spouse
00          Live In
100        Intimate Partner
22          Other

After Leaving Shelter

104          Did Not Return to Abuser
15            Returned to Abuser
49           Unknown

Ages of Residential Clients

21           Age 18-24
62           Age 25-35
50           Age 36-46
26           Age 47-57
09           Age 58-68

PREVENTION


Presentations

  93 Students – Pre-K – Feelings
106 Students – 5th Grade – Bullying
295 Students – 6th Grade – Bullying
308 Students – 7th Grade – Teen DV
211 Students – 8th Grade – Teen DV
841 Students – 9-12th Grade – DV 101


1,854 TOTAL STUDENTS

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.