What began in 1976 as a tiny volunteer agency with one hotline has grown into a multi-faceted organization that serves thousands of individuals. Sojourner House is a nonprofit based in Providence that helps victims and survivors of domestic abuse, sexual violence, and human trafficking with an expansive list of vital services. Adding to that list, in 2022, they launched the MOSAIC Project, a unique peer mentoring program.
Serving as a community advocacy group, the MOSAIC Project aids new and soon-to-be mothers who have experienced intimate partner violence by pairing clients with local moms who have completed a 10-week training program. Mentors and mentees then meet each week over phone or at mutually comfortable locations for up to 12 weeks. According to Vanessa Volz, executive director of Sojourner House, “The overarching goal of this project is to reduce rates of violence among new parents.”
Born out of a five-year federal grant, the initiative was developed in collaboration with the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH). “Prior to working on this project, we had been collaborating with the Department of Health on other projects, so we were known entities to each other,” Volz says.
With RIDOH’s focus on data and research and the on-the-ground experience Sojourner House brings, partnering on the MOSAIC Project came naturally. “It was nice to be able to have an opportunity to blend our individual expertise together,” Volz reflects. “We want to respond to the needs of our community, and this seemed like a good way to do that.”
While a majority of Sojourner House’s funding comes from federal grants, they rely on other sources too, including donations and fundraisers. Their largest fundraising event is the annual Masquerade Ball, which will take place November 17 at the Graduate Providence, with tickets typically going on sale in early September. Sojourner House is also currently running their Capital Campaign to pay for a new property to accommodate their growth. Until the end of October, donation dollars will be matched up to $250,000 by the Champlin Foundation, one of the oldest philanthropic organizations in the state known for awarding capital needs grants to nonprofits.
Still in its early stages, the MOSAIC Project is constantly evolving. Mother mentors are usually known to the agency, but Volz welcomes any mother who has had some experience with intimate partner violence to contact Sojourner House about becoming a mentor. Long-term goals include training hospital and clinic staff to identify potential victims and send referrals, giving Sojourner House access to clients who may not know about services or are unable to reach out for help. “This is a five-year grant, and our hope is that we’ll be able to continue it,” Volz says. To donate to Sojourner House or learn more about their programming, visit SojournerRI.org.
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