AUSTIN (KXAN) — A local pastry chef, inspired by her past, is turning to her baking skills to give back to an organization near and dear to her heart.
Janet Barron is a survivor of an abusive marriage.
“I was scared on how I was gonna get out. What am I gonna do? How am I gonna provide? How am I gonna raise these two kids?”
Questions she has since answered.
“I was the victim but my kids were bigger… It’s the million-dollar question: which is better? You live in a broken home or come from a broken home? And honestly, coming from a broken home is better, it’s better. I wish I would have left earlier,” Barron said.
Since leaving and starting a new life in Austin with her kids now both attending college, she has turned to giving back and spreading awareness for those in her old shoes. Barron stopped by SAFE Alliance at Grove in Austin ahead of Thanksgiving to give cupcakes to the staff, families and children.
“My goal is to help other women and men get out of this situation,” Barron said. “Coming back and giving cupcakes to the kids and the parents here is really rewarding. It’s sharing is caring and showing other people that you can step up and get out. You know it’s gonna be tough but it’s better than what you were living in.”
SAFE Alliance’s mission is to stop abuse for everyone. They provide services to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking and child abuse.
“I want to make sure our community stays safe,” Qunisha Simmons said.
Simmons is the senior director of Shelter and Children Services at SAFE Alliance. She is also inspired by her past. She went through the foster care system from age seven to 17.
Simmons said the holidays are tougher for her clients.
“During the holidays it’s stressful just because people are trying to be able to put meals on their table as well as being able to buy gifts with the holiday season coming up, and we’re obviously in a pandemic where many people have lost their jobs. So, there’s a lot of tension being built up in the homes and so you see a lot of the tension and violence happening.”
SAFE Alliance normally serves an average of 600 people each year. COVID increased that amount. Between April and August of this year, it has seen a nearly 20% increase in calls, chats, and texts to its 24/7 SAFEline compared to the same time frame in 2019. About three out of four SAFEline calls are related to domestic violence.
- Over 197,000 incidents of family violence were reported in Texas in 2018, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.
- 185 people were killed by an intimate partner in Texas in 2019, according to the Texas Council on Family Violence.
- In 2019, the Austin Police Department and Travis County Sheriff’s Office reported a combined total of 9,613 family violence cases.
Ways to give back
SAFE Alliance accepts many ways to give including donations for the holidays.
“We definitely appreciate people like Janet who are able to give us items that we can distribute and share with the families that are in the shelter. We definitely have birthdays still happening, special recognitions, so [we] definitely appreciate it,” Simmons said.
The Alliance is seeking hundreds of sponsors to search for gifts and basic needs for their clients. You can sponsor a wish list, shop shelves or make a monetary donation. Learn more on the SAFE Holidays program webpage, including information about its warehouse and collections.
Unfortunately, some things are different this year due to the pandemic.
Some services have scaled back from in-person to virtual. Right now, they’re not doing in-person volunteer opportunities but there are still ways to volunteer.
Staff is still doing intakes, though, providing the full service one would have coming to the shelter. You can check out their website to learn more about their COVID safety measures.