From healing art to financial education, Turning Point empowers women
The Lehigh Valley nonprofit organization has been providing refuge since 1978
“One of the easiest ways to control a person, if they’re abusive, is to control their finances,” said Turning Point Executive Director Lori Sywensky. “In almost 99 percent of cases there is also financial abuse on top of psychological, emotional abuse, or physical violence.”
In a recent interview, Lori emphasized that many women who come to Turning Point, a nonprofit dedicated to eliminating domestic violence through education, engagement and empowerment in Lehigh Valley, PA, are often financially unstable.
Frequently when women are in abusive situations, it is difficult for them to understand their financial affairs because they have limited or zero access to them.
“Even on a good day, I don’t want to deal with my bank account,” admitted Lori. “If I’m also now in this high stress state, and I have somebody telling me I’m worthless for years, and if I’m experiencing the trauma of physical injury – it’s impossible to deal with those things.”
With Turning Point’s obvious dedication to helping vulnerable community members find strength and security, a partnership with Guardian was a natural fit. Our employees in Bethlehem, PA, have been ready to help however they can, be it logging volunteer hours or monetarily.
Recently, we provided Turning Point with a grant to expand their financial empowerment program. The grant will allow Turning Point to invest in brand new computer equipment, which will help equip program participants who rely on them for life skills like personal finance and career skills including online job search and resume writing.
“Turning Point is mostly about immediate safety, but for people who have safety, it’s more practical things that lead to success later on,” said Lori. The grant will play a big role in that path to success for survivors of abuse.
In her three-and-a-half year tenure with Turning Point, Lori has worked on various initiatives, like a healing arts program with the Banana Factory, a local art and education center, which we’ve committed to sponsor through 2020.
Lori further explained the healing arts program, saying “We have support groups that are focused on doing music and artwork together. We have teaching artists from the Banana Factory co-facilitate the group with our counselors. When you experience trauma, it’s hard to verbalize. This is a great way to help people express what they’re feeling and deal with it so they can start to process it.”
When people experience trauma, it’s key to have methods like the healing arts program to kickstart recovery. “Having to process the experience, and understand the trauma is critical if they’re going to become independent,” said Lori. With the financial empowerment and healing arts programs underway, Turning Point is taking great steps to improve lives.
“It takes way more than just our organization to achieve a mission,” said Lori. “We appreciate all the thought Guardian has put into trying to actively be part of the solution.”