Citizen Potawatomi Nation’s domestic violence program, House of Hope, filled the Tribe’s North and South Reunion Halls on the powwow grounds with vendors and breakout sessions during its new Jump Start Day at the beginning of January. HOH Domestic Violence Prevention Specialist Kayla Woody wanted to host a different kind of community outreach event and began thinking of ideas during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We (HOH staff) were all just sitting around a table, and I said, ‘I really want to try to put something together where we can pull in all of these different resources in one place so someone can come in and not have to go to multiple locations to get the things that they need,’” she said.

The day included 35 vendor tables as well as breakout sessions on smudging and some cultural knowledge, safety planning and more. Approximately 50 people attended throughout the day, and House of Hope had door prizes, free haircuts and other giveaways.

Woody has worked for HOH for 3 1/2 years and learned that clients rarely face domestic violence as an isolated problem.

“We see addiction issues. We see homelessness issues. We see health care issues,” she said. “So, it’s really important to be able to talk about all of those things and not just focus on one particular thing. And not only that, but we’re also not just providing information. We’re providing those really needed services like housing, like insurance, like food or clothing, or even just mental health services.”


Jump Start Day brought together resources from across Pottawatomie County to help community members face those problems, including the Shawnee Public Housing Authority, Project Safe, Shawnee Bridges and Worrel’s Haven sober living house for women and many more.

“Lots of different organizations — parenting organizations that help with mothers who are struggling because that’s another barrier from trying to leave an abusive relationship is children. We’re so grateful for those organizations like Legacy Parenting (Center) and CTSA (Central Tribes of the Shawnee Area) childcare,” Woody said.

Carey McCoy works as a graduate success coach at Shawnee Bridges as part of its Getting Ahead program. The organization helps participants overcome poverty and achieve their goals during a 16-week financial education class.

McCoy spent Jump Start Day talking about their life-changing resource. She previously attended the program and understands the participants’ struggles.

“I know the psychological effects that (poverty) has on a person and how it can lead to other maladaptive coping behaviors,” she said. “And whenever you get to the root of that problem, the psychological root of the problem, and validate someone and empower them and give them the skills and tools they need, then they can make a difference and totally change their life. And whenever you change one person’s life, the whole entire community benefits.”

Woody invited Halli Clymer from Dazzle Hair Salon located in Shawnee, Oklahoma, to give free haircuts. Many people lack the money for the expensive service. Clymer gave 16 haircuts throughout the day and enjoyed helping attendees feel good about themselves.

“One girl ended up shaving her head because her mom had cancer, and she’s like, ‘I love it.’ So, I did it again. … And then I did my first two haircuts. I’ve never done the viral TikTok butterfly haircut, where you do two ponytails. I was like, ‘Girls, let’s go for it.’ We did, and they loved it. And it was fun,” she said.

Many of the vendors also appreciated the chance to network and expand their information about resources to offer their clients. Project Safe Outreach Coordinator Hannah MacLaren liked offering those in need knowledge about other programs after an event like Jump Start Day.

“And then also just being able to have other nonprofits in the community that can partner up with one another and just support each other because it’s not easy, and we’re all walking this hard road together. So, I feel like being able to rally together and provide support is super important,” she said.


House of Hope’s Kayla Woody also organized small breakout sessions throughout the day to reach attendees in a different way. She invited CPN Workforce Development & Social Services’ Re-entry and Diversionary Lead Counselor Burt Patadal to lead two sessions about smudging, which Woody called “super beneficial.”

HOH Domestic Violence Advocate Melody Yabarra also led a session on domestic violence safety planning.

“We get a lot of family members who call us and ask what they need to do when somebody is in an intimate partner relationship and there’s violence involved,” she said. “One of the best things that you can do as a concerned family member or a friend is reach out for resources. They did absolutely the best thing they could do to find out what’s available. Like, how do they leave, how do they leave safely, where do they go?”

Yabarra emphasized that each situation presents unique circumstances, and there are no one-size-fits-all answers or solutions. She feels Jump Start Day provides the educational opportunities needed to save lives. Yabarra also pointed out that domestic violence outreach and resources have grown and changed since Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act in 1994.

“Maybe about 20 years ago, there were no domestic violence programs. There was nothing. So, a lot of people, they don’t know that there’s a way out and that you can get out safely and that you have support and that you have financial assistance to help you get back on your feet,” she said.

Woody plans to turn Jump Start Day into an annual event to begin each new year with a positive impact. She believes pooling knowledge in one place and expanding the sessions to cover additional topics can help break cycles of abuse.

“The more that we can talk about domestic violence, what it looks like, the more that we can really connect it with other issues in the community like addiction, like mental health issues, like medical issues. I think the more education we can put in a community, a better chance we have of really stopping the abuse before it starts,” Woody said.

Visit CPN’s House of Hope online at or call 405-275-3176. Follow HOH on Facebook @cpnhouseofhope.