APTOS — Monarch Services held its 40th anniversary celebration with a luncheon at Seascape Golf Club in Rio del Mar recently.
More than 100 community partners, donors, staff, volunteers and board members attended the event which featured guest speakers who were instrumental in the formation of the organization. Speakers included Blanca Tavera, founder of Defensa de Mujeres, and Carol Walberg, founding member of Battered Women’s Shelter Project.
Local activists initiated the formation of Women’s Crisis Support in 1977 with the county’s first crisis line based in Santa Cruz. Then the Battered Women’s Shelter Project opened providing “safe houses” in Santa Cruz. The two groups joined forces and merged.
The organization opened a satellite office in Watsonville, but due to budget cuts, the Watsonville office was forced to close in 1989. Latina activists opposed the closure due to the “urgent need for bilingual and bicultural services in South County.” As a result, Defensa de Mujeres was created and opened as a new domestic violence agency in 1991.
In 2005, both agencies merged into one nonprofit organization, creating Women’s Crisis Support – Defensa de Mujeres (WCS-DdM). In 2013, WCS-DdM changed its name to Monarch Services to reach more populations including youth and men.
Monarch Services honored several people including Martina O’Sullivan, retired community leader and long-time member of the Monarch Board, local attorney Bob Katz and member of board for more than 30 years, and Maria Campos, a 20-year employee at Monarch.
“Monarch Services has a rich history of activism in our community and we continue to serve as leaders in the violence prevention field because of our deep commitment to community health and wellbeing,” said Laura Segura, executive director of Monarch Services.
On Friday, Blue Shield of California Foundation announced a grant of $20,000 to Monarch Services.
“Today, the advocacy and services that Monarch Services provides are more important than ever,” said Lucia Corral Peña, senior program officer at Blue Shield of California Foundation. “As we face an uncertain political and social environment that threatens the wellbeing of vulnerable families, women and individuals experiencing domestic violence — as well as the organizations that support them — we need leaders like Monarch Services to be there to continue helping those who struggle most. We stand together with Monarch Services, alongside many other partners and leaders, in our ongoing and collective mission to prevent, address — and ultimately end — domestic violence in California.”
“This support from Blue Shield helps Monarch advance its work in improving the overall health of our community,” Segura said. “By serving and empowering the most vulnerable in our community, we are building a community of leaders to help end violence. We are grateful for the ongoing partnership with Blue Shield of California Foundation.”