Jay Gotra | Philanthropy

"We rise by lifting others."

Alliance Security & Adopt-A-Family 2015

The ability to give back is a gift in itself. Alliance Security is proud of all of our employees who volunteered their time this Holiday Season to help with the Adopt-A-Family project! Alliance employees took time before and after work to shop and wrap gifts for over 50 children in Rhode Island.

 

Adopt-a-Family, Making the Holidays Brighter

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Ah the holidays…a time for friends, family, and of course gifts! With Christmas right around the corner, many Americans have already finished their holiday shopping for their friends and love ones. However, what if you knew of a family who did not have Santa’s gifts under the Christmas tree? What if you if you knew a family who’s Christmas day consisted of survival and hunger?

For many Americans, this situation is hard to comprehend. But like it or not, this is reality. There are some families out there who do not have the means or recourses to give their kids the Christmas we all know and love. But that does not mean that you cannot help.

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“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill.

If you are looking to bring the Christmas cheer for the holidays, take a look at Adopt-a-Family. Adopt-a-Family is one of the many social service agencies that offer individuals to donate money and gifts to families in need. While year-round, this organization is very popular during the winter holiday season.

So how does it work?

The nonprofit organization, Adopt-a-Family provides general information about the family members’ gender, age, size, and needs and wishes on a tag, similar to those found on holiday presents. These tags are decoratively placed on a Christmas tree for individuals, families, teams, or businesses to take. After taking a tag, the individual or team is responsible to get the various gifts listed on the tag’s wish list. While you are only required to provide one gift, many people usually complete the wish list to truly give that holiday cheer for that family and their children.

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For years, Jay Gotra has committed himself to bring happiness to others during the holiday season with Adopt-a-Family. He believes that this organization truly embodies the selflessness and generosity that every person should personify. For Jay, he states that, “if you knew the true power of giving, you would not let this type of opportunity pass.” Because of that, Jay has created a strong and viable partnership with his company, Alliance Security and the nonprofit organization Adopt-a-Family where every year, they try to give many families the Christmas they deserve.

“We’re simply trying to do good and assist families who are in need of a little extra help,” states Jay Gotra. “It’s truly a humbling experience that strengthens us as a team, keeps us grounded, and reinforces that special sense of family at Alliance.”

If you are looking to provide that same holiday and heartwarming cheer, click here to learn more about Adopt-a-Family and what you can do for the holiday season.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month : Get Off the Bench!

Jay Gotra No More RIPart of the mission of the Ten Men organization is to provide non-violent men with information on how to stop domestic violence every day. And this month will be no different. However, throughout the country, October is designated as “Domestic Violence Awareness Month” bringing even more attention to this critical issue.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month originated from a day of unity held by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence in 1981. Subsequent to that day in October nearly 35 years ago, advocates for ending violence against women and their children have expanded this kind of focused awareness to last the duration of the month.

While the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence is active throughout

the year when it comes to issues pertaining to domestic violence, this month marks the launch of a new campaign. RICADV’s new campaign focuses on  athletes asking others to join them in the battle to end domestic violence by speaking up and speaking out.

The “Get Off the Bench!” campaign speaks directly to athletes, student athletes and college students on the quest to put an end to the pervasive issue of domestic violence by encouraging the people in those communities to take an active stand against it.

RI CADV will disseminate this message throughout the state through a variety of mediums including outdoor posters, digital ads and PSAs that run both on TV and on the radio.

Although awareness for this issue is highlighted during the month of October, it is a year-round issue, and RI CADV and other advocates work tirelessly to share this message of prevention, intervention and cessation.

To learn more about the “Get Off the Bench!” campaign, or ways that you can help end domestic violence, visit nomoreri.org .

See the video clip below to learn more about the campaign and the broader mission of the organization.

 

Data Protection for Survivors of Domestic Abuse

Jay Gotra Data SafetyLast month,I wrote an article about different steps that people should take in safeguarding their personal information online. With a spate of recent data breaches at large companies, it’s no surprise that data security is on the top of everyone’s mind. But protecting one’s real-life safety when engaging on digital platforms has always been a chief concern for survivors of domestic abuse. Social media and personal websites often incite anxiety due to privacy concerns, and have the potential to pose tangible threats for survivors and current victims of domestic abuse.

However, there are so many reasons to engage online, and luckily, there are a number of resources that advise survivors on precautions to take to help engage online while maintaining safety. Although every case is different, and every survivor’s circumstances are unique, the following tips may provide helpful guidelines for those looking to engage online while maintaining safety.

The following information is pulled from the Safety Net Project, which is part of the National Network to End Domestic Violence. To see that full document visit Technology Safety & Privacy: A Toolkit for Survivors .

Data Gathering

  • A number of private organizations, agencies, services, and businesses gather and sell or share data about people privately and publicly online.
  • These “information gatherers” can include both government and non-governmental organizations, schools, community groups, and online sites.
  • Because of this, it’s possible that sensitive or identifying information is available online without a victim’s knowledge or consent.     

The Problem

With the explosion of the information available online, stalkers have a new tool at their disposal and can use the Internet to find out all kinds of  information about the victim. This type of information can include everything from the location and contact information of the victim to information about their closest friends. In addition to using this medium to learn more about their victim, stalkers and abusers can use the internet as a weapon and mount campaigns meant to damage the reputation or even the credibility of the victim.

Steps You Can Take

  • Google Yourself : Do a search on yourself (try this on a few different search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing) and find out exactly what information is available out there about you.   
  • Hold onto your Info: When it comes to sharing personal information (like your picture, phone number, email address, home address, work address), be cautious. You can always  get creative in declining to share this information, or making up something false.
  • Request the Removal of identifying  information from public directories (both digital and hard copy). Find out how your court records can be sealed so as they are not published anywhere – a restraining order should help speed up this process.
  • Use Strong Passwords
  • Log Out of Accounts and Apps
  • Regularly review privacy settings on all of your accounts – especially your social media accounts – but make sure that you do this for e-commerce accounts too.
  • Disable GPS location sharing. Review your phone’s settings and make sure you know which apps have access to your location. Pay particular attention to this in your camera app so you avoid uploading your exact coordinates with an image.
  • Take time to think about if/how you connect your social media accounts. Connecting them may expand the number of people that will have access to information about you and may be somewhat more  difficult to manage.
  • Avoid Free Wifi networks.
  • Use an incognito mode when browsing – particularly if you are on a computer or device that doesn’t belong to you.
  • Use different email addresses for different purposes.

Consult sources online and in-person if you are uncertain about how to shape your online presence and protect both your online data and your IRL safety. The above advice is just a starting place, and remember that the specifics of privacy concern will continue to change and grow with evolving technologies, so make sure to stay as up to date as possible.

 

Paying Our Way Out of Violence

jaygotratenmenThe Ten Men Initiative is one borne out of a desire for men from all walks of life to help end dating and domestic violence through teaching other men how to help the victims of such abuse by reaching the abuser. In Rhode Island, Ten Men is the first statewide effort that consists of prominent male leaders in their communities dedicating themselves to ending the inaction of non-violent men who witness abuse, and don’t know how to help.

Domestic violence is a societal ill that plagues people of all ages, races, locations, socio-economic classes, cultures, religions and sexual orientations. How much financial wealth someone has doesn’t protect them being a victim of violence. However, when it comes to non-profits and government organizations aiming to prevent domestic violence and treat those that have survived it, funds are critical.

The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV), is the parent organization of Ten Men, and approaches the problem of domestic violence a few ways. In order to achieve the organization’s vision of a society wherein domestic violence isn’t tolerated, they focus on areas like; policy, prevention, survivor activism, communications, and training. And while donations and volunteer work is necessary, the organization requires operational funds in order to function properly.

The work of the RICADV is extensive and multi-pronged in its approach. However, the organization has repeatedly been awarded for its vision and the work that it does daily. In addition to public recognition, the RICADV has won a number of grants that help fund these admirable objectives.

In 2003, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) selected the RICADV as one of only fourteen states to receive the highly sought-after DELTA grant. The intention behind awarding this grant  to the RICADV was to enlarge the organization’s capacity for prevention work throughout Rhode Island.

A decade later In 2013, the RICADV was again chosen once more as one of ten states to receive the CDC’s DELTA FOCUS grant.

The DELTA FOCUS Grant

The Delta DELTA FOCUS grant (Domestic Violence Prevention Enhancements and Leadership Through Alliances, Focusing on Outcomes for Communities United with States) is a cooperative agreement lasting for five years that funds 10 state domestic violence coalition grantees to engage in primary prevention of intimate partner violence (IPV). The point is to end the violence before it even begins through a number of means. The DELTA FOCUS Theory is described in greater detail in the image below.

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Funding from sources like the DELTA FOCUS grant are critical in ending this epidemic of violence. These funds allow for organizations to operate at a larger scale and potentially have an effect on a greater number of people.

 

When The Money Stops

Jay GotraDomestic abuse hurts us all. When the safety of a home is threatened, there is nowhere left to turn. Too often families are torn apart silently behind closed doors. Organizations like Ten Men and the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence do their best to stand against the tide of domestic violence. And while we are still celebrating the institution of legislation within our state that would create the domestic violence prevention fund, many similar organizations all over the country are suffering. What is to be done when the government pulls funding from the efforts of these organizations trying to end Domestic Violence, or treat victims of these crimes? By yanking the carpet out from underneath the feet of those standing against domestic violence, we all lose.

Fewer Dollars Go To Domestic Violence Treatment and Prevention Every Year. Women and children across the nation are left victimized and alone, stranded without the proper care to lift them from their situations. A recent report from the NNEDV (National Network to End Domestic Violence) says more than 10,000 cases of domestic violence could not be helped this last year out of the 78,000 who reached out for support. Those in need of a helping hand should never be left hanging.

The report by the NNEDV cited that 28% of programs for the prevention of domestic abuse lacked the resources to help because of a decrease in funding. Whether losing money from a lack of government aid, or a marked drop in public donations, domestic abuse prevention is losing its ability protect the deserving. Program funding hasn’t recovered from the recession, so continuous budget cuts over the past eight years have sent programs reeling.

Imagine gathering the strength to remove yourself from an abusive situation, only to be turned away due to a lack of space. Oftentimes, this barrier is enough to drive the abused back into the arms of an abuser. Insufficient funds mean less food for the hungry, fewer beds for the weary, and a smaller shelter for the needy. Those who truly need help are faced with an impossible choice. Do you risk living on the streets? Or choose a life of abuse for some semblance of comfort?

Everyone deserves a bed to sleep in and a place in which to feel safe. If the lack of funding going to institutions providing for the needy infuriates you, then say something. Speak out, demand funding and get involved. However, there is still time to make a change. Raise awareness, help the needy, and be a shoulder for anyone who needs it. Every action, no matter the scale, can make a difference in a life. The good you do today will inspire others tomorrow.

News from the State House in the Fight Against Domestic Violence

Jay Gotra RICADVOn June 18, 2015,  the Senate approved legislation to create a new fund targeted at preventing domestic and dating violence in the state of Rhode Island. The bills were sponsored by Maryellen Goodwin and survivors, advocates and community members showed up in an act of solidarity to the State House to encourage movement on the bills.

Under the new legislation (2015-S 0650), the domestic violence prevention fund would be created through a $46 surcharge on marriage licenses. Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence will administer the fund, and the money will be used to pay for proven educational programs designed to prevent domestic and dating violence throughout the state.

Once this legislation is in place, the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence will be required to convene an advisory committee for the fund. This committee will include; its own executive director,the director of the Department of Human Services, the director of the Department of Health, and the attorney general or their designees, and representative Rhode Island organizations that provide domestic and dating violence primary prevention services throughout the state. The committee’s primary responsibilities will include implementing preventative programs, developing criteria for granting and distributing funds and making recommendations to the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence regarding which programs to pay for.

The next step is for the legislation to advance to the House of Representatives. There, Deputy Majority Whip Christopher R. Blazejewski (D-Dist. 2, Providence) is currently sponsoring identical legislation (2015-H 5651).

In 1994, President Clinton signed The Violence Against Women Act, into law. This legislation significantly changed the way that Americans think about sexual, dating and domestic violence. While this law was a critical step in the fight against this kind of violence, we still have  a long way to go to keep people safe from this insidious type of violence.

As a member of Ten Men, I couldn’t be happier to see this kind of legislation gaining traction, but there is always more work to be done.

 

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