In February 2008 I was in Puerto Vallarta with a missions group from Colorado. The group was building a house for a family in a very poor neighborhood. I had been feeling the need to do more than just go on a mission trip a few times a year, something more permanent. We had a rest day during the trip and that day I decided to go to social services and talk with the people there about the needs of the community.
I was told that there are many needs in the community, but the one thing that is needed more than anything is a shelter for battered women and their children because there are none. That was the incentive that I needed. In 2009 I formed the US not for profit corporation, Compassion for the Family.
In 2010 the Mexican not for profit was formed. Later that same year I decided to take an early retirement for my job and in December I was living full time in Mexico. I had enough money to buy a lot where the shelter would be built and pour the building foundation, but that was it. I didn´t even have an idea of where the money would come from.
Despite that lack of secure funding we started building in June 2011. That same year I was introduced to a woman, Freda who I was told could help us raise funds for the building. In February 2012 we had our first fundraising event. During the following 3 years the shelter slowly came into shape and in December 2014 the shelter was ready to open! There it was, more or less completed and paid for, but nobody to staff the shelter. We searched for people who would be willing to staff the shelter as volunteers because there was no money to pay them! We needed a director, social worker, psychologists, nurses, a teacher, a lawyer and auxiliary personnel.
Slowly the staff was put together and some funds came available to start paying them. Today we have a staff of 13 people serving women and children, providing them with everything that they need to prepare themselves to live a life free of violence.
In June 2017 we opened the Free Life External Resource Center in Tepic, Nayarit. The center is staffed by volunteer psychologists, social workers and lawyers who provide free services to women and their children in domestic violence situations.
The Banderas Bay Women´s Shelter is dedicated to protect the lives of women and children in situations of domestic violence and prepare them to live a life free of violence.
The shelter is staffed with a director, an adult psychologist, a child psychologist, an educational psychologist, a social worker, a teacher, a lawyer, a nutritionist and 24 nursing staff. Our team is made up of the following individuals (last names withheld to protect the staff and those in our care):
Director Faviola, Social Worker Vero, Adult Psychologist Carmina, Child Psychologist Ceci, Educational Psychologist Paola, Teacher Laura, Lawyer Wilbert, Information Specialist Dulce, Chauffer Jose, Cleaning Rosario, Nurses Yoli, Caro and Dalila. The board members of Compassion for the Family are David Zude, Charles Toops and LuAnn Zude.
Basics such as food, clothing, medical care. Life planning including job-specific training, formal education for women and children, home hunting, school registration. Individual, family and group psychology sessions. Legal processes such as child custody, child support, restriction orders and formal charges against aggressors.