2013 Prize Winner
"Monika doesn't just have a place in her heart for this work: she has a personal, daily commitment to making the world a better place and strives to create space where each person is honored for their unique gifts."
Rebecca Nickels, Portland Women's Crisis Line
Fifteen Oregonians died from domestic violence this year, according to the Portland Women's Crisis Line. PWCL hosts a 24-hour phone line for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Over the phone, survivors find immediate intervention, safety planning and connections to resources. "A lot of time when a person is fleeing domestic violence that means leaving their home," Monika Weitzel, a PWCL direct service advocate, says. "The No. 1 cause of houselessness for women is domestic violence." Weitzel's personal experiences with sexual and domestic abuse have led her on a mission to provide support for other survivors. She first volunteered at Rose Haven, a shelter for women and children, where she says many women told her their houselessness was a result of their abuse. She wanted to find a place to work on the root of the problem. "When I asked these women where they sought support around these issues, the answer was PWCL every time," Weitzel says. In addition to answering the crisis line and responding to the hospital, Weitzel, 28, provides one-one-one support to survivors experiencing houselessness. "I found what I want to do with my life, for sure," she says.
The prize is generously sponsored by Davis Wright Tremaine.