We’ll Scootch Over, there’s room.

We’ll Scootch Over, there’s room.

“Everybody is a story. When I was a child, people sat around kitchen tables and told their stories. We don’t do that so much anymore. Sitting around the table telling stories is not just a way of passing time. It is the way the wisdom gets passed along, the stuff that helps us to live a life worth remembering.”
― Rachel Naomi RemenKitchen Table Wisdom

S.A.F.E. was born at the kitchen table, thirty years ago, by a group of incredible women who dared to gather round and dream together. Today, we have a nice young building and a real shelter, to replace the generously loaned spare bedrooms of the past, but there is still a kitchen table. Amazing stories have been shared around that old yellow table, along with tears, laughs and plenty of donuts.

The essence of the kitchen table is unique. It is not like a conference table, or a desk, or even a circle of chairs. The kitchen table, rather, says, “Come on in, we’ll scootch over and make room for you. Find a place to put your elbows and be here, be you here.” A kitchen table welcomes you for who you are – flaws and mess and brilliance, too – as is. A kitchen table is not a place for deciding, as much as a place for working out possibilities.

I love that old yellow table more with every key I type, and when it offers donuts it’s absolutely dreamy … But mostly I love it because it represents the heart of S.A.F.E., a place where a survivor is welcomed fully, where she can prop up her elbows and talk, and someone will listen. An advocate doesn’t have to justify spending time just listening, for there may be nothing at all that needs done today but listening. An advocate doesn’t make decisions about a “case” or tell a survivor what to do. An advocate helps her work out the possibilities.

I wish there were more kitchen tables like this one here at S.A.F.E., because I think a lot of us could use a place to work out possibilities. Everybody is a story, and everybody is a part of this story of ending violence. We are survivors. We are friends. We are parents trying to raise kids in a violent world. We are moms and dads hoping our daughters are strong enough, and our sons can cry. We are passionate about many causes, from ending sex trafficking to building women’s health clinics. We are overwhelmed by the barrage of news: sexual abuse in churches, an epidemic of campus rape, school shootings, homicide in our own community.

So, welcome to the S.A.F.E. blog – it’s a kitchen table of sorts – come on in, we’ll make room for you. Let’s keep gathering round, passing our wisdom along, learning and dreaming together. Thanks for listening. Let us know what you think:  SAFE in the Bitterroot facebook page.

Jamie Ogden
Ravalli County Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence
S.A.F.E., Inc.