Doorways Accredited

Doorways Accredited

On July 12 Doorways received notification they had received state accreditation from the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, Division of programs and Services, Victims Services for domestic and sexual violence programs. Diana Ortiz, President and CEO of Doorways, says it took 18 months from the application to complete their assessment. “It was quite a process.”

Ortiz says Doorways becomes one of only 12 dually accredited domestic and violence agencies in Virginia. “This was the highest level any agency could have in the state — it took 100 percent, not 95 percent.” She explains it means, “We provide all comprehensive services for survivors 24/7 including hospital accompaniment, shelter to all without discussion of race, gender, socio-economic status.”

She adds Doorways also provides a hotline not only for victims of violence but also sexual abuse. In addition, she says, “Some of our agencies are struggling with providing all of these services. We also provide a court advocate to help navigate the system.” 

Doorways runs with the assistance of 100-120 volunteers “almost two to one.” Volunteers participate in a training component of 40-50 hours before meeting with their first survivor; then 20 hours every year for staff and 10 for volunteers. Volunteers need to know the appropriate way to engage survivors, including a number of survivors who aren't comfortable coming to Doorways, Ortiz explains. “There are new practices, protocols; it is very specific. There is the intersection with race and gender.”

In addition, Doorways sometimes needs to address the language barrier. “We have 5-6 on staff who speak five languages and then we have access to any language so we can explain to our clients how we operate and the services we offer.”

Ortiz says Doorways is currently seeing a record number of survivors. “and the ones we see are coming with more need — maybe because the Covid relief funds are gone, Medicaid and SNAP have reverted to the lower pre-Covid levels; they might have rental debt.” 

Over the last six years Doorways has seen a 120 percent increase in the number of survivors and their families sheltered in their safehousing to escape imminent danger.”

Currently Doorways houses 50 households with 20 more in the shelter. But she says they have an overflow of survivors and no funds remaining to house them in hotels. “We have a considerable deficit from last year’s need. We know more people are needing help and are hoping that our generous community will continue to assist.”

In addition to monetary assistance Doorways often sends appeals for household supplies including pots and pans, cleaning supplies, towels and sometimes pet food for the families living in the residence. “Also we have a backpack drive going now. Over 50 percent of our residents are children. And they outgrow their clothes.”

“I think this new accreditation not only reflects well on Doorways but really speaks to the level of services in the community.”

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