40 Stories - Roberta

Shelter Advocate

In the mid-90s Roberta began volunteering as a rape crisis counselor for Grady Hospital.  Every Sunday for five years, Roberta would donate 12 hours to this work. Slowly, but surely she took on more hours and duties. After many years of faithful service, which resulted in more than 8,500 volunteer hours to the rape crisis center, Roberta decided to interview with PADV as a hotline worker.

On March 3, 2000 Roberta interviewed for the job with PADV and on March 5 she started her first shift. Roberta came to PADV believing many of the same myths and stereotypes others believe about domestic violence and its victims.  After many years of meeting clients and answering crisis call after crisis call, working at PADV has given her a completely different picture.  She’s seen survivors from every race and economic background, experienced women struggling with the difficulty of leaving their home, family and someone they love, the challenge of becoming financially secure and the trauma DV can cause to children.

When facing tough stories and not always perfect outcomes, Roberta sometimes wonders if she’s really making a difference. What has helped reframe her perspective and renewed her faith are the graduation invitations that she often receives from former shelter residents.  Roberta remembers a family that entered our Fulton Safe House with a 12-year-old girl and a 15-year-old boy. The young man hated being here and was often disruptive and disrespectful to his mother and staff.  The staff, as they always do, persisted and the family eventually moved into their own apartment. Roberta lost touch with the family over the years until a year ago, when the now young adult recognized Roberta on a MARTA train.  Cautiously addressing her he said, “Aren’t you Roberta from the shelter?  I’ve got to tell you that you changed my family’s life. My Mom is doing great, I’ve graduated from college and now have a little boy of my own.  I’m making sure that he’s got the Dad, safety and love that I never got from my Dad.” 

Each day Roberta’s goal is to save one person’s life.  Her advice to survivors each day is “Love yourself more than anyone else can love you.” 

Roberta has seen a lot of changes in PADV and she would like to see the agency grow to be an international agency.  Roberta truly believes in our organization’s ability to change lives, knowing this comes from the care and dedication of our staff. “Our staff loves each other and genuinely cares for one another. That love for each other translates into how we care for our clients and grow our outreach and impact in the community.”