When 1,200 adults, teens, kids and babies in strollers gathered at William Land Park in November 2003 to raise funds for My Sister’s House, they made a bold statement to Sacramento’s Asian and Pacific Islander communities: Domestic violence will not be tolerated. This year, as My Sister’s House celebrates its fifth year, the organization hopes to repeat the same success for its second Fun Run, scheduled for November 5. Established in 2000, My Sister’s House is the first and only nonprofit organization in the Central Valley to identify and address the needs of Asian and Pacific Islander women and children affected by domestic violence, with the Fun Run serving as its primary fund-raiser and a main community-outreach event. Nilda Valmores, the executive director, says the unique needs of Asian and Pacific Islander domestic-violence victims often are overlooked by mainstream organizations: issues such as immigration status and language barriers, which keep many victims from stepping forward. Thus, My Sister’s House was created by community leaders as a safe place for these victims to change their situation. To learn more about the organization or register for the Fun Run, visit www.my-sisters-house.org.
What is the significance of the name “My Sister’s House"?
A big reason why the name My Sister’s House was selected is because it can translate easily into other languages. “Domestic violence” is a term that doesn’t translate into many Asian/Pacific Islander languages. My Sister’s House does identify that it is an organization that provides shelter and helps women.
Why is it important to have a domestic-violence service that is specifically aimed toward the Asian/Pacific Islander community?
Twenty percent of Sacramento’s population is Asian/Pacific Islander, and there are dozens of languages and communities. There’s a lot of outreach that needs to be done. … In terms of addressing [domestic violence] as an organization, it means looking at staffing, training issues and the services that are provided, in terms of how are they delivered that is culturally sensitive and appropriate. There are also some basic issues like food and of being sensitive to different faiths. Immigration issues are another big example of how it’s different. Oftentimes [the women have] come from abroad, and they may not be familiar with Sacramento or the United States.
Does diversity within the Asian/Pacific Islander community complicate things at all?
Yes, especially with a small-staffed organization, it takes a lot of effort. We have materials in different languages and could always continue to translate and update. We try to reach out and make sure that we have diversity in terms of our volunteers for our crisis line so if someone calls speaking a different language or asks to speak to someone of their same ethnicity, we can have someone relate to them.
How can community members get involved with My Sister’s House?
There are so many ways. There’s help organizationally, with fund-raising. There’s also help needed for clients; we have a volunteer who helps us go shopping once a week and buys the special foods for our clients, the ethnic foods, and shops for the special deals, which is terrific. My Sister’s House operates with two staff and a part-time bookkeeper, so all the volunteer help is really needed. There are many, many different ways that individuals, corporations, businesses can help make a difference. We’re hoping that someday someone will donate some property to My Sister’s House so that we can have a permanent safe haven for women and children.
Tell me about the Fun Run event on November 5.
We’re hoping to have a thousand participants—runners and walkers, adults and children, from throughout Sacramento and the Central Valley—come and show that they’re concerned about domestic violence and wish to prevent domestic violence. In part, it’s a fund-raiser for My Sister’s House, and the other part is also a statement to the community that they’re stomping out domestic violence. It’s going to be at William Land Park—starts at 8 in the morning. People can register at www.my-sisters-house.org, at Fleet Feet on J Street, or they can call (916) 396-4992 and we’ll send a packet out. … We hope it will be lots of fun.
Has there been any backlash from the Asian/Pacific Islander community in response to having a domestic-violence organization specifically for them?
In a lot of the presentations, one of the questions always asked is “Where are the services for the men?” There are certainly men who are abused also. There is some concern that not just My Sister’s House, but domestic-violence organizations in general don’t keep families together. We usually counter by saying what we’re about is trying to keep families healthy and keep healthy families together and make them healthier so they can stay together.