Women of Worth
Grass Valley, California
"I was terrified to go to court and face my abusive husband," says Beth, a woman who rebuilt her troubled life with the help of Women of Worth (WOW). "Sandy came with me and held my hand the entire time."
Years earlier, WOW founder Sandy Escobar-Schmidt was just as terrified as Beth when she and her children fled her abusive husband. Working several jobs and going to college, she felt revictimized when seeking assistance for her family’s basic needs: "I then understood why women return to their abusers."
She persevered, however, and recalls, "I learned that I could become independent. I could raise my children in a home free of terror. I could recover my self-esteem, my strength, and my stability. As a survivor of domestic violence myself, I had longed for the kind of support, resources, and education that WOW provides on a daily basis for our clients and community members who are in need. I wanted to provide that for other women."
Since 2001, the agency has served thousands of women and children who have suffered from domestic violence, sexual assault, even human trafficking. The success actually saddens Sandy. "We wish the epidemic of domestic violence had been cured." Until it is, WOW will continue offering shelter and assistance.
The agency’s Hetty’s Haven is a shelter named for Hetty Williams, a teacher shot to death with a nail gun by her husband of 20 years when she left their marriage. Like Sandy, Hetty would have loved seeing "fear gradually leave a woman and her children’s eyes as they realize they are truly safe."
Sandy’s greatest heroes are the women that "graduate" from Women of Worth. "They take risks, put their lives in our hands, flee the terror, and embrace a better and safer way to live. That brings tears to my eyes every time I think about it."