Willow Center, Deaf IGNITE formally unite

Messenger Post Media

The Willow Domestic Violence Center and Deaf IGNITE recently announced a formal partnership that will combine the infrastructure strength and community partnerships of Willow with the specialized services for deaf survivors offered by IGNITE.

A recent study of 1,900 students at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf indicated that deaf individuals were 150% more likely to fall victim to domestic violence, making vital that prevention education, advocacy and supportive services are available and accessible for deaf individuals.

“Joining forces with Willow is a win-win situation for both organizations,” said Susan Demers-McLetchie, executive director of Deaf IGNITE. “It allows us access to their wealth of resources, which will enhance our quality of services for deaf survivors.”

Willow Center’s public office in downtown Rochester will be home to Deaf IGNITE at Willow Center. Willow will provide administrative, grant-writing and funding stream support, and Deaf IGNITE will become a program within Willow with access to all of its programs: hospital, counseling, court, shelter, advocacy, hotline and special initiatives.

“This partnership will strengthen the ways our community responds to domestic violence and increase access to quality services provided in a culturally accessible way,” said Meaghan de Chateauvieux, president and CEO of Willow Center. “IGNITE brings a tremendous legacy, skill set and vital knowledge in the unique needs of deaf survivors that will be shared with the larger Willow team of 40-plus advocates.”

Susan Demers-McLetchie and Brittany Ellenbecker join the Willow team to lead the Deaf IGNITE program at Willow Center. They will support staff with educational opportunities in deaf culture and American Sign Language training to ensure deaf survivors feel safe and welcome at Willow.

Kelly Metz Davis, board chair for IGNITE, is serving as a Willow Center board member and chair of the Deaf IGNITE Program Advisory Committee. Committee members include Tim Albert, Patti Canne, Yvette Chirenje, Carrie Fisher, Michelle Gerson-Wagner, Vicki Hurwitz, Mary Karol Matchett, Tiffany Panko, TJ Sanger II and LeeAnne Valentine.