Safe Shores – The DC Children’s Advocacy Center is honored and grateful to be named a 2020 Impact Award winner by Nonprofit Village. Since Safe Shores marked its 25th anniversary in 2020, receiving this recognition this year is especially meaningful.
Nonprofit Village, the DC area’s only nonprofit incubator, created the Impact Award to recognize nonprofits in the DC area that are making a difference in the communities they serve and demonstrating the values of the Nonprofit Village, including “community, collaboration, sustainability, integrity and impact.”
Safe Shores was awarded the 2020 Impact Award for large nonprofits. Arts for the Aging was awarded the 2020 Impact Award for small nonprofits.
The Impact Award focuses on nonprofits whose work, collaboration and practices provide examples for others in the social justice sector. Philanthropist and Nonprofit Village Board Chair Emeritus Jeffrey Slavin interviewed the executive directors of both 2020 Impact Award winners. Safe Shores’ Executive Director Michele Booth Cole was asked to share some of Safe Shores’ practices in innovation, collaboration, equity and strategic planning, which may offer lessons for other direct service organizations. You can watch the full interview below.
Michele discussed innovation within the Safe Shores organization and encouraged other nonprofit organizations to not be afraid to take risks and try new things, but to not expect perfection. She gave the example of Safe Shores’ complete shift to online services and remote work during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Innovation really requires flexibility. It requires risk taking. It requires making sure that your team knows that it’s okay to make mistakes and there is not an expectation of perfection,” she said. “It’s about constant learning.”
During the interview Michele spoke to the collaboration that is built into the Child Advocacy Center model. Keeping children and their families at the heart of decision making is the best guide for collaboration among the Multi-Disciplinary Team.
Listening is imperative, Michele noted, as is holding oneself accountable when things don’t go right – and they won’t always go right – she said.
“Give grace. Be relentless in your willingness to regroup, revise and try again,” Michele said, discussing how other nonprofits can cultivate collaboration. “Be resilient and persistent. That’s what our collaboration is built on.”
When asked about equity, Michele discussed how it has been a core focus for Safe Shores during her 17+ years with the organization, especially as an organization that is led by a Black woman. Equity for Safe Shores means intentionally ensuring that everyone has what they need to be successful.
“We listen to our clients, we respect our clients, we really work to honor their dignity and to make sure that as we’re planning our programs, we’re incorporating their feedback,” she explained.
She also talked about her vision for the future of Safe Shores, stressing that the vision is a shared one that is shaped by the staff, the board, the community, and, of course, the clients.
Michele accepted the Impact Award on behalf of Safe Shores during a virtual awards presentation. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the award presentation was pushed back from an in-person event in March. You can watch the virtual awards presentation by playing the video below.
“A drop – a splash – the impact, on others, whether it’s intended or unexpected,” Michele said of the image of the water droplet splashing into a body of water that is etched onto the award. “That [impact] is what Safe Shores is trying to have on our community, on the children and families that we serve.”
In accepting the 2020 Impact Award, Michele thanked Safe Shores’ staff and Board of Directors, recognizing them as parts of the whole, whose collective work is being acknowledged. Michele noted during her interview that being intentional in the hiring process and supporting great staff in doing their work are two key practices that Safe Shores has implemented.
Michele also thanked Nonprofit Village for the recognition and discussed how the award shines a light on the needs of children and the work that Safe Shores does for DC child victims of abuse and their families.
“Thank you, Nonprofit Village, for seeing the importance of lifting up organizations who are in the trenches, organizations that people may have never heard of, often like ours,” she said. “We are here in the community, serving… we’re so grateful that you see us and that you help others see us. We can’t do it alone.”
Selena Mendy Singleton, Clerk of the Montgomery County Council, nominated Safe Shores for the award and was part of the virtual event. She congratulated Safe Shores for 25 years of service to the DC community.
“Our communities and families are more resilient and better equipped to face the road ahead healing from trauma, because of the work of the Safe Shores team,” she said.
Poet Taylor, Safe Shores Board Member and Radio Host at WPGC Radio, was also among those at the virtual ceremony to present the award to Safe Shores. Poet thanked Nonprofit Village for recognizing the Safe Shores team and discussed how much joy she finds in being part of Safe Shores’ work.
“You are appreciated, you are seen, and you are necessary,” she said of Michele and the rest of the Safe Shores staff.
Safe Shores’ team is grateful to Nonprofit Village for acknowledging and honoring the work we are excited about and dedicated to doing every day.