By Kim Lux
From the road it may just look like a purple dot, but the sticker on the front door of North East Welch Federal Credit Union, 115 Clay St., means so much more.
NE Welch FCU is now PurpleOne certified, meaning members of the staff are trained to assist victims of domestic violence in seeking aide and services.
The PurpleOne initiative was started by Safe Journey, a domestic violence agency in Union City, and the Rural Domestic Violence Task Force of Erie County.
“Nobody in North East does it yet. So far we are the only ones,” said Bobbi Randall, business development specialist and financial education coordinator at NE Welch FCU. “We got involved because I saw that a couple Corry-area credit unions were doing it and we thought that it was something we wanted to bring out here.”
Lori Palisin, executive director of Safe Journey, said since the PurpleOne initiative’s inception, more and more Erie County businesses are signing up for training.
“We launched in March of this year,” Palisin said. “So far, we’ve held five training sessions. Over 100 people have participated and there are now 38 certified businesses and organizations.”
Palisin added that PurpleOne helps more victims of domestic violence learn about the free and confidential services Safe Journey offers.
“At Safe Journey, we only see a small percentage of victims,” she said. “The thought behind PurpleOne is that if we educate the communities, victims can now reach out to local businesses and groups to get vital information and services.”
Randall said it only takes one representative from a group or business to attend a four-hour training session to receive PurpleOne certification.
“It was a four-hour training program,” she said. “There was a lot of great information provided.
“I now know how to ask the right questions,” Randall added. “I’m now trained to see the warning signs and I’ll reach out if I think someone needs it.”
The sticker outside prompts people to come seek information at NE Welch FCU and talk with Randall.
“There’s a sticker on my window inside too, so people can come talk to me,” she said. “Anybody who feels like they need a safe place because they’re in an abusive situation, whether it’s physical or mental abuse, can come here. It doesn’t even have to be the victim themselves, it can be a mother, a friend anyone who knows somebody who is being abused and needs help.”
Palisin said she’s happy to see the PurpleOne initiative taking off.
“We’re really excited that it’s been so well received,” Palisin said. “It’s good to see the communities engaging and becoming part of the solution.
“Domestic violence is a problem for all of Erie County, not just certain locations,” she added. “This is something that everyone needs to take seriously.”
Randall and Palisin both urge more North East organizations and local businesses to sign up for PurpleOne training.
The target audience incudes businesses, religious organizations, schools, nonprofits, law enforcement agencies, governmental bodies and medical organizations.
“I want this to grow in North East,” Randall said. “When I was driving to the training in Union City I saw these Purple One signs in dozens of windows. I want to see that here.”
There are currently two training events scheduled for Monday, Sept. 23, at the Intermediate Unit 5, 252 Waterford St., Edinboro, and at Blasco Memorial Library in the H.O. Hirt auditorium on Monday, Oct. 7.
For more information and opportunities to sign up for training courses go online at www.purpleone.org.
“Domestic violence is everywhere,” Randall said. “Safe Journey provides for everyone in the county. I want to help get the word out on the great work they do, while at the same time helping victims and families affected by domestic violence.”