Originally published June 2022 in Hamptons Magazine, page 70, written by Elizabeth Brigham.
A SAFE HAVEN FOR THE EAST END’S COMMUNITY, THE RETREAT (ALLAGAINSTABUSE. ORG) PROVIDES SHELTER, SAFETY AND SUPPORT FOR THOSE AFFECTED BY DOMESTIC ABUSE AND FAMILY VIOLENCE. WE SAT DOWN WITH EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR LORETTA DAVIS TO TALK ABOUT THE ORGANIZATION’S HISTORY AND HOW HAMPTONITES CAN IMPLEMENT CHANGE.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START THIS ORGANIZATION?
The origin of The Retreat is an inspiring story. In 1987, local concerned individuals opened up their homes to families who needed a safe place to stay to avoid home violence and abuse. Those same concerned local residents got together and built a shelter for the safety of kids and adults. Without that shelter, some of the survivors would not be alive today. It is a magical story because members of the community just got together and literally moved mountains for this to happen.
HOW DO YOU PERSONALLY RELATE TO THE CAUSE OR WHAT DRIVES YOUR PASSION?
I have a passion for the work of The Retreat because we are helping to change the cycle of abuse. On one hand, with the help of our prevention education programs in schools, we change the lives of children and adults so that they can experience healthy relationships and live sustainable, independent lives free from violence. On the other hand, we work with survivors and provide critical services so that they can heal, physically and mentally. We need both, prevention education and services for survivors. As a former judge, I have seen the damage done by abuse and violence and the gap in needed services. Our message is that we are here for all survivors and that change is possible. We still have a lot of work to do, but we are seeing a shift.
HOW DO YOU HOPE TO BRING CHANGE IN THE COMMUNITY?
There are so many ways that we can bring change, and during these times, that hope is essential. Our prevention education programs have expanded during COVID when survivors were isolated and needed to know we were still open. It’s so important for us to never close our doors at the shelter—for our clients, knowing there is help available, especially during the most di ﬃ cult of times, is essential. Change begins on an individual level and spreads to community change. We need to change the perceptions about the way people view victims of abuse.
WHY DO YOU THINK THIS ORGANIZATION RESONATES WITH HAMPTONITES SO MUCH?
I like to think we live in a special place. We are so lucky to live here. Community supports community, and people here do care about others in distress. We have seen the power of individuals with the origin story of The Retreat. When you have a few people who come together and create a safe home and services that will make our community a safer and more supportive one, you feel good.
WHAT IS UP NEXT FOR YOU AND THE ORGANIZATION?
The Retreat is growing in terms of clients served and programs and services provided. It is a growth spurt for us. We have new communities that we are serving, an expanded board of dedicated individuals and tremendous volunteers. We are ﬁlling a gap by providing more counseling to children and youth, starting with children as young as 3 years old. Our donors are committed, long term and generous, but we need to increase our donor base with new supporters and stakeholders.
We continue to strengthen our programs, ﬁll our thrift store with amazing donated items and collaborate with supportive town and village governments and other nonproﬁt and for-proﬁt entities. We love meeting new volunteers, donors and partners. It’s exciting and keeps our services vital, evolving and impactful.