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A Year of Change for Safe Berks

Nov 20, 2017 • by Jillian Baker, Alvernia University, citizen contributor

Every three seconds someone is a victim of domestic violence (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence). That’s 1,200 people an hour, and almost 29,000 individuals each day who are victims of domestic violence. Safe Berks is the leading organization within Berks County that is fighting against and raising awareness for, as well as helping the survivors of domestic or sexual violence.

At this time last year, a group of Alvernia students were tasked to aid in a special project for Safe Berks. In December 2016 at the Celebration of Peace event, Berks Women in Crisis (BWIC) announced that they would be changing their name to Safe Berks. “We have periodically talked about the name Berks women in crisis or BWIC as we do not just exclusively serve women, we do serve men and other gender identities and we also know that people do not identify with being “in crisis”. We wanted to make people aware of the breadth of our services for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault and engage the entire community to work with us in our prevention efforts,” Mary Kay Bernosky, Chief Executive Officer of Safe Berks said.

After the release of the name Safe Berks, the organization received “overwhelmingly positive” feedback according to Bernosky. “People appreciated the positivity of the new name and the inclusiveness it represented.” Although there was a positive reaction to the name change of BWIC to Safe Berks, there is the confusion where some people think Safe Berks is a completely new organization and separate from BWIC. This is not the case. Safe Berks is the new name for BWIC – it offers all of the same services BWIC did, just with a new inclusive name. Safe Berks has partnered with Leadership Berks to create a marketing plan to smooth over any confusion and promote all of their services.

The mission of Safe Berks is to provide supportive services to victims and eliminate domestic and sexual violence in Berks County. Safe Berks is very community-centered and community -positive. “Berks County is an engaged community and people work together to improve our community. My favorite part is the generosity of this community. Both in terms of financial support but also in terms of sharing knowledge, working together. Our non profit community in Berks is very collaborative and we share our ideas, our resources, and our knowledge knowing we all benefit from that,” Bernosky said.

In the past year, Safe Berks has made some organizational changes to improve their service to the community and the people it serves. Safe Berks has expanded their staff as a result of some additional funding opportunities. They are working towards the common goal of “being more thoughtful about how we measure our impact on individual survivors as well as our community,”

Bernosky said. The name change from BWIC to Safe Berks has put the organization in the position to have a greater impact on Berks County and the victims of sexual or domestic violence that it assists. In the future, the goals of Safe Berks are to “accurately describe the impact we are having, to engage men, and the health care community in our work and to ensure that all who need us know how to find us.”

If you or someone you know are experiencing situations of sexual or domestic violence, call the Safe Berks hotline at 1-844-789-SAFE or text SAFE BERKS to 20121.

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