Julie Myers keeps a running list.
So, when Hoosier Energy reached out this spring to offer four bikes to Desert Rose Foundation in Martinsville, Myers was ready to give each of them a new home.
New homes are Myers’ specialty as a Case Manager/Victim Advocate for Desert Rose, which provides assistance for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault as well as their families.
“They can receive service through a 24-hour crisis line,” Myers said. “We determine their needs, then bring them in to establish safety. They can stay anywhere from 30 days to two years.
“We help them get protective orders, establish safety in schools as well as helping with life skills or dealing with problems like transitioning successfully to jobs, finding a car, etc.”
Desert Rose has both in-house residents and outside clients served by a 10-person staff with someone available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
“We have a plethora of people on hand,” Myers said. “I always say, ‘If anything happens, somebody get my phone,’ but we meet every morning.
“… We try to invest in people making connections, working toward change.”
Part of working toward that change is finding the things families want and need, such as bikes, and putting them on the list.
That’s where Hoosier Energy comes in.
It started as a collaboration with Indiana Electric Cooperatives.
The Hoosier Energy Member Solutions department visited IEC in Indianapolis with the first part of the day focused on strategic planning. IEC made a lunchtime presentation, then the second part of the day was focused on team-building. IEC donated the bikes and made a competition out of building the bikes. Hoosier Energy was able to choose which organization it would donate the bikes to, and Desert Rose was the choice.
There were already several connections in place.
South Central Indiana REMC’s Vice President of Member Services, Tammy Haenlein, is a member of Desert Rose’s board of directors, while Hoosier Energy had previously worked with Desert Rose via the Share the Holiday program, a volunteer effort now guided by Senior Compliance Coordinator Karen McEwen.
“Both prior to and after COVID-19, Karen would purchase household things like crockpots, small furniture, clothes, toys, etc. and would sponsor a family with an Amazon wish list she set up,” Myers said.
Four kids’ bicycles are just the latest way for Desert Rose to help those who need it, one of those to a single mom who has been with the organization for four years and had requested a bike, which went on the list.
“She’ll bring it back when it’s been outgrown,” Myers said. “We just did our annual Mother’s Day fundraiser and half of the volunteers were past residents. It’s amazing they came back to give back. They unloaded 1,000 flowers and in two days we sold 1,000 baskets. We are super blessed they’d give of their time.”
It’s that kind of lasting connection Myers hopes for with those Desert Rose is helping and those who are helping Desert Rose.
“People spend a lot of money and time and give resources, so we want those to go to somebody who needs them,” Myers said. “Money is needed but healthy relationships are also needed. Each year we make a bigger connection with families and the community.”