When Home Isn’t Exactly “Shelter”

Posted by Monica Hoel
Laura Beth Weaver is the executive director of the Women’s Resource Center of the New River Valley, and the pandemic is causing additional challenges to her work.

Laura Beth Weaver is the executive director for the Women’s Resource Center of the New River Valley (WRC). Each year, they provide shelter to hundreds of women, men, and children who are victims of domestic or sexual violence.  Throughout their scope of services, the staff of the WRC provide support and advocacy to approximately 3,000 victims and their family members annually.

The recent complications brought on by COVID-19 have added a new layer of concern for the work Laura Beth and her team do for their clients. The organization takes seriously a pledge to be with a victim through every step of the long process of finding safety and healing – serving as advocates at every turn. But now, hospitals are having to limit the number of people who can be with a patient. Laura Beth says that’s a pivotal part of their work that they aren’t able to maintain right now. “To not be able to do that was, I think, one of the hardest decisions in the last couple of weeks. We can’t go be with people at the ER after violence happens.”  Their staff are working to ensure that support is available, although it looks different than prior to this pandemic.

And, of course, there is the added complication that we are all being asked to “stay home” – but not everyone is blessed with a safe home environment.  “Our shelter is full and people are still being hurt.”  Shelter services are still available and staff are working diligently to ensure that those fleeing domestic or sexual violence have a safe place to land.

Laura Beth has the unenviable task of working to keep clients safe…while also keeping her team of professional staff members as safe as possible.  Fortunately, she is not a person to be stopped by challenges, and she and her team are seeking safe and creative ways to serve the community.

Tough work? No doubt. But as Laura Beth says, “I am able to do this work because of what I learned at Emory & Henry.” 


Read the full Roanoke Times article.
  • Laura Beth Weaver, E&H Class of 2005
    Laura Beth Weaver, E&H Class of 2005
“I am able to do this work because of what I learned at Emory & Henry.”

Laura Beth Weaver
E&H Class of 2005
E&H master’s degree 2011

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