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#GivingTuesday an opportunity to care, share in season of greatest need

Published: Monday, Dec. 2 2013 7:20 p.m. MST

Angelina Trujillo hands her daughter Willow a cookie as she gets lunch for three of her four children at the YWCA in Salt Lake City on Monday, Dec. 2 2013.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Angelina Trujillo's due date was approaching, and she was facing a gut-wrenching decision.

Trujillo had no place to go, but staying with her fiancé placed her and her other children at increasing risk due his substance abuse, which was fueling his violence against her, she said.

"It was either he was going to kill me or hurt me and my baby," she said.

The day she left, Trujillo put her young family on bus and headed to a domestic violence shelter in Park City.

"I took the diaper bag and my kids and that's it," she said.

The family later transferred to YWCA Utah, where caseworkers have helped connect the young mother of four with health care and public assistance programs, housing and a job.

"They helped me get a protective order so I'd be safe. I feel safe here," she said.

Trujillo shared her young family's experience in advance of #GivingTuesday, a global movement to set aside the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving as a day of caring and sharing.

"(People) should give back, anything they can. It doesn't matter if it's clothing or just helping out," she said.

Anne Burkholder, chief executive officer of YWCA Utah, said this is the second year that the 107-year-old nonprofit organization has participated in #GivingTuesday. The event creates an occasion for people to focus on charitable giving and allows organizations such as YWCA Utah to educate the community about the services it provides, she said.

"It is a way to remind us about what’s important in this season and to take us away a little bit from the commercialism we see in the month of December, particularly between Thanksgiving and Christmas," Burkholder said. "It is to remind us that we belong to one another and that our families and our communities will only flourish if we care about them and we pay attention to them, particularly in their moments of greatest need. I think that becomes particularly poignant during the holiday season."

Whether they seek emergency shelter or live in transitional housing, women and families who reside at the YWCA campus in Salt Lake City "can't live at home because it's too violent," she said.

In addition to domestic violence shelters and case management, YWCA Utah offers transitional housing, a family justice center, on-site child care for shelter and apartment residents, along with a community child care center. It also plans to launch a full-day kindergarten program.

Throughout its history, the YWCA has advocated for women and is dedicated to eliminating racism.

While living on the YWCA campus enables women and families to get back on their feet after leaving violent, dysfunctional homes, living in shelter during the holidays can be emotionally taxing, Burkholder said.

"We, as a culture, associate home with belonging, safety, peace and joyous holidays. We liken all of those things. When there is abuse and violence in the home, it ruptures that," she said.

The Trujillo family has lived at the YWCA for three months, during which baby Angel was born.

"What I like about it here is they help you restart your life," Trujillo said.

This week, she and her children will move into an apartment. Later this month, she will start her job.

Trujillo said she's looking forward to the holidays and starting the new year in new home.

The YWCA "changed everything around, but in a good way," she said.

YWCA Utah is one of hundreds of Utah nonprofit organizations taking part in the day of giving.

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