“If you have a sore throat, you take an aspirin. If things aren’t working for you in your head, go talk to somebody.”
It’s a message that Doe Browning wants every person to take to heart. And with her lead gift of $1 million to Bright Future Foundation’s (BFF) BrightHouse Capital Campaign, she’s proven that she means it.
Doe is a BFF board member whose gift launched the $3.4 million fundraising effort to build the new BrightHouse shelter. As Eagle County’s only community-based domestic violence and sexual assault agency, BFF serves clients with prevention, crisis intervention, advocacy, and long-term healing services. Groundbreaking for BrightHouse is scheduled for August 2020.
The BrightHouse project is important to Doe because she knows domestic violence victims can find it hard to reach out for help. A survivor of domestic violence herself, Doe realizes that she was fortunate. She had the resources to get help, while so many others do not. Without those resources, many are too frightened to leave their abusers.
She’s working to change that.
For Doe, the financial gift is just the beginning. Her goal is to destigmatize the image of domestic violence survivors so that everyone who needs help can find the courage to seek it.
“If you were in a snowstorm and somebody was driving by and offered you a lift, you’d take it. You wouldn’t think about it. Well, a lot of times you’re in a snowstorm in your life. Take the lift,” explains Doe.
Doe’s awareness of the need for public education about domestic violence came in part from her connections with young people through various organizations in the community.
She knew that domestic violence is something that survivors can find hard to talk about. “When you’re going through trauma, you actually can’t even connect with someone who is emotionally safe. You are also in a pretty vulnerable state, so maybe you need that level of emotional connection more.”
Doe supports Guardian Scholars, a local scholarship for first generation college students. An encounter with one special student there reinforced her belief that connecting with one person with compassion can literally save the life of someone who is going through or has survived domestic violence.
She says that experience connected her in a whole new way to Guardian Scholars. “It wasn’t just writing a check. I was investing in students and families, in whatever challenges they are navigating in life.”
In telling her own story, Doe also mentions the critical role that community plays in the healing process. “People and organizations in this valley changed my life.”
Still, she feels that the community could be doing more to support domestic violence survivors. “We need to raise the bar of our humanity. I think when we talk about affordable housing and employee housing, there needs to be a whole different kind of contract about getting access to it.”
Thanks in part to Doe Browning’s generosity, BFF is taking a giant step toward raising that bar.
BFF is a community fundraising partner of Eagle Valley Behavioral Health (EVBH), which launched the $100 million It Takes a Valley: Transforming Behavioral Health campaign in partnership with Vail Health Foundation.
Because it really does take a valley.
“I know I’m a good person and I know I’m a strong person, and I know I’ve changed people’s lives. And I know what happened to me has helped me change the lives of other people.”