“Did I make the right decision?” “Will my children and I be ok?” For survivors of gender-based violence who make the decision to leave an abusive relationship, moving into a shelter can be a scary idea. This is where Alena Victor, Director of Residential Programs, and her dedicated team come in.
Since 2011, Alena has played an integral role in working to alleviate these concerns by creating a welcoming and supportive environment for survivors upon move-in. It is at this starting point where meaningful work surrounding trauma begins. Residential staff work diligently to establish trust and foster an environment where survivors feel like they belong. This type of restorative work is the foundation of Womankind’s Residential Programs—from the initial screening with clients via the helpline, to the move-in process, and throughout their stay as they navigate their healing journey.
It is because of her work with and dedication to residents and survivors of gender-based violence that she has been awarded the Emerging Social Work Leader Award by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW)- NYC Chapter. Alena was a major force in developing “Moving Ahead Positively,” Womankind’s model of practice, and has been adapting to residential services. Aside from her exemplary work with the residences, she is also a steering committee member of the New York City Residential Coalition and speaks about forced marriage and the intersection of immigration and gender-based violence.
Alena is the fifth staff member in Womankind’s history to receive an NASW award, joining Executive Director Larry Lee and other staff as recipients. Around the office, she is known for being a fierce advocate for residents, putting their safety and wellness at the forefront. She is also a creative individual, often sharing and leading DIY art projects and making elaborate gifts for staff baby showers. “I want to thank my parents from the bottom of my heart," says Alena. "As I engage in this work on a day-to-day basis, it’s their lesson on the importance of giving your heart to others that fuels me daily.” Our warmest congratulations to Alena on a well-deserved recognition!