Who is Avanzar? You may remember us by our old name — The Women’s Center. We have been providing programs and services for victims and survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking since 1975. Although we changed our name, we are still a social justice, non-profit organization focused on equitable inclusiveness. Our mission is the same — empowering individuals and families by working to secure their physical safety, emotional well being, individual freedom and economic equality.

Why did we change our name? In August 2019 we re-branded as Avanzar to better reflect the diversity of our community and our clients. Avanzar is a Spanish word that means "to move forward or to advance" and this is what we help our clients to do. In addition to our 24-7 crisis hotline, emergency shelter, transitional housing, displaced homemaker program, counseling and art and music therapy programming, we provide statewide services to victims of all forms of human trafficking. We are also the Technical Assistance Center for Grow New Jersey Kids — a quality rating system for New Jersey’s childcare centers and support childcare centers in the seven southern counties.

The impacts of COVID-19 are far-reaching for us all. Non-profit organizations are struggling to raise funds and our stress levels are rising. For the populations we serve, the effects have been devastating. Isolation and quarantine create prime opportunities for domestic violence and sexual assault. Last year, Avanzar responded to more than 7,000 crisis hotline calls and provided nearly 3,000 nights of emergency shelter. We supported 192 victims of human trafficking — 46% were under age 18. Did you know that only 15% of sexual assaults are reported to the police?

Avanzar is committed to providing responsive services for culturally specific populations and communities. We recently formed a Domestic Violence Coalition for Communities of Color with a three-pronged focus: prevention, awareness and resources to reach this underserved population. Did you know 9.5% have been stalked and 41.2% of Black women have been physically abused by a partner during their lifetime? (National Intimate Partner Violence and Sexual Violence Survey – NIVIS.)

Avanzar is committed to equitable and inclusive treatment to our diverse community. We recognize that diversity is our strength and Dismantling Racism Initiative has been working for more than 10 years to address racial equity and healing — now needed more than ever. In partnership with Rutgers Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Center Newark, Avanzar has created a petition to Governor Murphy to establish a Day of Racial Healing in January 2021. We invite all to support this effort and sign the petition here: change.org/NJDayofRacialHealing.

A few weeks ago, Avanzar opened our newest program — emPOWERHOUSE — a stabilization home for at-risk youth from the state of New Jersey. This unique program provides a home-like atmosphere for youth to grow, heal and thrive.

If you are in need of our services or if you know someone who may, please call our 24/7 crisis hotline at 1-800-286-4184 or text 609-569-5437. For more information about Avanzar or to make a contribution to support our free and confidential services visit avanzarnow.org or call Fran Wise at 609-601-9925, ext. 1028.

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