Meet our latest POM partner, Start Out Fresh Intervention Advocates (S.O.F.I.A.). S.O.F.I.A. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides domestic violence victims and survivors with assistance and encourages them to be positive, self-sufficient and successful. Through the S.O.F.I.A. Success Center, the organization provides free workshops to help in the process of emotional healing and financial independence. We sat down with Cynthia, the founder and executive director of S.O.F.I.A., to learn more about her cause and why she chose to partner with POM.
Can you tell us about yourself and why you started S.O.F.I.A.?
I have always had a passion for helping people and was involved with several community service organizations. I decided to start the organization when my daughter, Brieana turned 18. I originally started a non-profit to help troubled teens, but it was very challenging seeking group homes and the resistance from the parents to send their child away to “Start Out Fresh”. Not too long after that, Monica Paul was murdered by the father of her children at the Montclair YMCA in 2008. A few months later, I met her mother at a Township meeting and she shared with me that there was not enough support for Domestic Violence victims. I thought long and hard and decided to get involved by enrolling to become a Certified Domestic Violence Advocate and to launch Start Out Fresh Intervention Advocates (S.O.F.I.A.)
What can people do to raise more awareness about domestic violence?
You can become a Certified Domestic Violence Advocate to have a better understanding on how to be supportive and what you can do to help eradicate domestic violence and break the cycle. Within your community, you can coordinate public events to raise awareness and educate our youth on healthy vs. unhealthy relationships.
What does safety mean to you and why is it important?
It means to be protected from danger. It’s important for everyone to feel safe and at peace.
Why did you choose to partner with POM?
POM found S.O.F.I.A.! Thank goodness! We greatly appreciate your sponsorship and support at our 9th Annual Walk Against Domestic Violence held in Montclair NJ.
What’s your favorite POM feature?
My favorite POM feature is the triple tap for the emergency alert. I haven’t had to use it, but it’s comforting knowing it’s available.
When do you normally use POM?
I usually use it at night when I’m walking from my car to my home.
What do you teach to domestic violence victims and survivors during your free workshops?
We offer free emotional healing and financial independence workshops to improve self-empowerment.
What advice and tips do you give survivors of domestic violence for starting to regain their sense of safety?
We offer words of encouragement, to never give up hope, and stay strong and focused. Most importantly, we let them know we love them.
Looking towards 2020, what are your plans for S.O.F.I.A and how can people get involved to help you attain your goals?
Our plans for 2020 include continuing to serve our community and beyond, expanding our Safe Dating Team, continuing the education of our youth about domestic violence, increasing outreach, expanding our workshop presentations and encouraging others to become Certified Domestic Violence Advocates. To get certified, the course is 40 hours (one or two days a week).
You can get involved by joining the S.O.F.I.A. team! Donations and sponsorships are greatly appreciated to help assist with the emergency needs (U-Haul rentals, Uber rides, beds and refrigerators, gas cards, grocery cards, etc). If you would like to join our team, donate or sponsor us, you can contact us here.
If a person is a survivor of domestic violence or knows someone that is, what’s the best way to reach S.O.F.I.A.?
To learn more and support Cynthia and Start Out Fresh Intervention Advocates, you can visit her website.
At POM, we believe in supporting important causes like S.O.F.I.A. For sponsorships, you can reach out to us here.