From its beginning in 1977, Friendship of Women, Inc. has held true to its belief that all persons have the right to self-determination, respect, and dignity regardless of their race, color, sex, national origin, age, disabilities, religion, or sexual orientation. We believe in the right of all persons to live without fear, abuse, and oppression, and strive in our daily work to eliminate domination of all forms.
Our mission is to provide leadership and comprehensive services to empower and promote safety, health, and the overall well-being of adults and children impacted by family and sexual violence. We seek social change through advocacy, education, prevention, and provide a safe home for victims and their families.
Friendship of Women, Inc. was founded in 1977. First referred to as The Battered Women’s Shelter, the Agency developed from a one room dwelling rented out of a $1,000 grant from Catholic charities. However, dispute with the landlord about the use of his building forced its founders, who voluntarily managed the shelter with the aid of other volunteers, to seek further community support to create a more stable location for a shelter facility.
By 1979 the Zonta Club, a women’s civic organization, became involved and raised enough money for a down payment on a spacious 3-5 bedroom house. The house was able to accommodate anywhere from 3 to 6 adults and their children. With more residents and added responsibility came the need for a permanent paid staff. A House Manager was hired to manage the shelter and a Director was hired to seek further funding to maintain and operate the shelter.
Another monumental event in 1979 was the creation of a governing board. The board is led by a Board President and has as many as 10 other members. Selection criteria for its members are their contribution to community service and their dedication to women’s causes. Each member is expected to work on the enhancement of both the financial and client service resources of the shelter.
By 1982, the shelter’s mortgage was paid in full through the help of a Housing and Urban Development grant and a matching amount obtained through donations by private individuals and civic organizations. We now have an eight bedroom facility to shelter victims of domestic violence and/or sexual assault, a satellite office that serves as the site for educational activities and a donation drop-off center, and a leased office that serves as the agency's Community Center. We have also purchased property which will be the site of a new, larger shelter.
Friendship of Women, Inc. continues to provide emergency temporary shelter and other supportive services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault to the resident of Cameron County and continues to accept referrals from areas outside our county. In addition, Friendship of Women operates the Batterer’s Intervention and Prevention Program for Individuals who batter.