Domestic Violence Awareness Month

From the desk of Julie Keegan, Unity House Clinical Program Director

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. In the United States, on average, 20 people per minute are abused by an intimate partner. There is an average of 20,000 calls to domestic violence hotlines nationwide daily.

Join domestic violence advocates nationwide on October 21 by wearing purple to honor survivors and victims and begin a conversation about why ending domestic violence is important to you.

What Constitutes Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence or intimate partner violence is a pattern of abusive and coercive behavior. This is a part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one partner against another. This can include physical violence, sexual violence, psychological or emotional abuse, stalking, strangulation, financial abuse or manipulation, isolation, and intimidation. Domestic violence is an issue that impacts all individuals regardless of age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status. With Domestic being so prevalent, one can begin to wonder why this is the case. It is not always easy to determine at the beginning of a relationship if someone will become abusive. The abusive behaviors often begin in ways that can be easily dismissed. At the start of the relationship, abusive partners may appear as the ideal partner, with the controlling and abusive behaviors intensifying as the relationship grows. Below are some of the common types of abuse.

Isolation: The beginning stages of an abusive relationship often start with isolating behaviors. Isolating behaviors can look like controlling who you see and when you see them, this can often look like they like/love you so much they want you to spend all your time with them. This can also be restricting phone access or going through your phone/social media, disliking or discouraging friend/family relationships, wanting to move in quickly, taking or restricting money or access to money, and preventing you from working or attending school.

Intimidation, Coercion, Threats: This manipulation can come in many forms but is often used to garner control over their partner. In one survivor’s story, she disclosed her partner would never physically harm her but created an environment in which she always wondered if she would be harmed and, in turn, always attempted to please him to avoid being harmed. On one occasion, she expressed that she had returned late from work and her phone had died, so she could not notify her partner. Upon arrival home, her partner was sitting at the dining room table with a gun on the table. He never used it against her, but the threat and intimidation were present and enough to manipulate her future behavior with him.

Physical/Sexual Violence: Physical and sexual violence are common types of domestic violence. Some common types of physical and sexual abuse include hitting, shaking, pushing, burning/branding, assault with a weapon, withholding physical needs (food, water, shelter), forcible restraint, forcible sexual contact, rape, and exploiting their partner/selling their partner to another for sexual contact. Another common type of sexual abuse is to force unprotected sexual contact to impregnate their partner. This is used as a tool to control their partner not to leave the abusive individual. Physical and sexual abuse often only escalate in severity upon their partner becoming pregnant. The most lethal times in a domestic violence relationship are when partners are getting married, when a partner becomes pregnant, and the abused partner prepares to leave the relationship.

Emotional Abuse/Gaslighting: Gaslighting is a specific type of emotional abuse in which the abusive partner attempts to make their partner question their thoughts, memory, and reality. One particular survivor’s story explained that their abusive partner would assault her in the days prior and then act as if it never happened. She would question her abusive partner’s behaviors. He would say things like “I don’t know why you are making this a big deal”, “I never would put my hands on you. Why would you think that”. Her partner questioning her on these incidents made her question her perception and believe she was making a larger deal out of the assaults even though they were severe. Emotional abuse and gaslighting are the most common types of abuse in abusive relationships and often have the most deep-rooted long-lasting effects on a survivor’s mental health. Other examples of emotional abuse are insults, taunting, purposeful embarrassment, criticizing their partner, distorting statements that create confusion, telling someone they are unstable or mentally ill, long-lasting ignoring of one’s partner, lying, and neglecting to follow through on stated intentions.

Stalking: Stalking is a common form of domestic violence and can often be different than you initially thought. 60% of stalking victims report being stalked by their current or former intimate partner. While stalking can be a stranger physically following you from location to location, it is more often than not someone you already know and taking place on the internet through social media and phones. Some common types of stalking are requiring someone to share their location services on their phone with them at all times, having and using someone’s passwords for social media to check their accounts and go through their phone, and using these services to pop up wherever their partner may be. Stalking is a common type of abuse and frequently points to dangerous and escalating behaviors that can lead to more lethal forms of abuse down the line in the relationship.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence or is looking to speak with someone about a potential domestic violence situation, please reach out to the local and state resources below.

Unity House of Troy Domestic Violence

24 Hour Hotline 518-272-2370

24 Hour Text Chat 518-720-6166

New York State Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline

24 Hour Hotline 800-942-6906

24 Hour Text Chat 844-997-2121

Equinox Domestic Violence Services

24 Hour Hotline 518-432-7865

YWCA of Schenectady Domestic Violence Services

24 Hour Hotline 518-374-3386

The 10th Annual Harvest Evening Celebration

The 10th Annual Harvest Evening Celebration to benefit The Food Pantries for the Capital District is an annual fundraising gala that takes place every October.  This year, Harvest Evening Celebration will feature in-person and virtual activities that include a wine pull and online silent auction!

Save these Dates:

  • On Thursday, October 14th, 6-7 PM the virtual event will feature wine tasting, beer tasting and a cooking demonstration and hosted by WAMC’s Northeast Public Radio’s Joe Donahue.
  • On Thursday, October 21st, 5-8 PM the in-person reception will feature open bar, hor-d’oeuvres and dessert at Franklin Plaza in downtown Troy. In-person event capacity limited to 200 honorary level tickets and sponsors.

You can support The Food Pantries’ nearly 70 food pantries and the more than 65,000 neighbors in need that were helped in 2020 by participating in this year’s event. Your participation allows us to continue to provide a high-level of support to pantries and feed the hungry. 

To register, visit our website here:

If you wish to register as your organization, click the box in the top right corner of the form titled “Register as a Company.” Once you’ve chosen your ticket option and filled all required fields, click “continue” to review your event registration summary. Click “complete registration” to be sent to our payment screen then, when finished, click submit and you’re done! You should receive an email confirming all the information about the event including a reminder of the date and time and a link will be provided. 

The cost is $75 for general admission and $130 for couples. Honorary starts at $125 for single and $200 for couple. We hope you can join the virtual and/or in-person Harvest Evening Celebration this year!

World Suicide Prevention Day

World Suicide Prevention Day is September 10. It’s a time to remember those affected by suicide, raise awareness, and focus efforts on directing treatment to those who need it most. The annual awareness day is hosted by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP).

Each and every suicide is devastating and has a profound impact on those around them. With increased awareness, reduced stigma and encouraging well-informed action, the number of suicides can be reduced.

World Suicide Prevention Day is an opportunity to raise awareness of suicide and “to promote action through proven means that will reduce the number of suicides and suicide attempts globally”.

Understanding the issues concerning suicide and mental health is an important way to take part in suicide prevention, help others in crisis, and change the conversation around suicide. The IASP website said: “Through action, you can make a difference to someone in their darkest moments – as a member of society, as a child, as a parent, as a friend, as a colleague or as a neighbor.

“We can all play a role in supporting those experiencing a suicidal crisis or those bereaved by suicide.”

Join the WBC for our Book Club on September 14

Join the Women’s Business Council for our Book Club! Given the pandemic, we thought a Book Club would be a fun way to broaden our networks and help us to read a bit more in 2021! 

Our book for September is When We Believed in Mermaids, by Barbara O’Neal.

There is no charge to participate in the Book Club. We do ask that you consider a donation to support our adopted nonprofit, The Food Pantries for the Capital District. No amount is too small! Click here to make your donation.

For questions please contact Marna Redding,;

Welcome Dr. Angela Pearson

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Angela Pearson as the new President of the Board of Directors at The Food Pantries for the Capital District!

“I wanted to join the board at The Food Pantries for the Capital District because the mission exemplifies my cause and purpose to support the community in ensuring every person who needs food receives it,” said Dr. Pearson. “Food is a necessity for families to feel safe and this organization ensures this happens. I am thankful for The Food Pantries and the opportunity to serve as the new President of the Board of Directors.”

“We are incredibly grateful to the Women’s Business Council for connecting us to Dr. Pearson! Since then she has volunteered at our member food pantries, our programs, and on organizational development initiatives through her company OD Synergistics Consulting. Looking forward to what we can accomplish together!” – Natasha Pernicka, Executive Director of The Food Pantries for the Capital District.   

Elevating from Workplace Wellness to Workplace Well-Being

From the desk of Joelle Monaco

When we think of workplace wellness, what comes to mind? If you’re like most individuals and organizations, your mind and programming go directly to the traditional ideas; walk programs, gym memberships, nutritional education, diabetes awareness, or smoking cessation programs. However, when we consider workplace well-being, there is much more to consider than that. Suppose we are ensuring inclusivity and the engagement of our entire workforce. In that case, it is essential to broaden our perception from wellness to well-being and how we support individuals in the workplace. As we wrap up June, National Employee Wellness Month, let’s explore how we can elevate programming to support our workforce. 

What is well-being, and how does it differ from wellness? Simply wellness is about a healthy lifestyle that typically refers to a state of physical health, inclusive of eating right, physical activity, and sleep. In comparison, well-being is a more holistic view and approach to prevention and health promotion. 

Let’s start with the why

Why workplace well-being, well why not? Organizations’ most significate asset is their workforce are their people. When individuals have resources to focus on their well-being, they experience higher levels of happiness and satisfaction, which ultimately increases organizational success. On average, adults spend at least 1/3 of their life in the workplace, so considering that we spend a significant amount of time there, it’s safe to say the workplace and its culture influences our wellness. Not to mention that individuals with increased well-being are almost twice as likely to be engaged and enjoy their work, according to Quantum Workplace.

Additionally, let’s not miss out on the organizational benefits of having a workforce that takes care of themselves and has their basic needs met. Harvard Business Review has reported that every $1 invested into employee well-being programs yielded $6 in health care savings. Considering direct and indirect expenses, organizations can experience impacts related to; health care costs, short and long-term disability, compensation claims, presenteeism, absenteeism, and talent attraction and development, to name a few. 

Creating Change

When you think of workplace well-being, consider the eight dimensions of wellness and the social determinates of health; in doing so, we can recognize the varying differences of our workforce and ensure programming meets various needs and wants. 

Initiatives that you can put into action today are financial education and resources, providing community resources, transportation education or options, accessible food options, housing support, caregiving resources, or stress management, to mention a few ideas. 

Moving Forward

No need to toss your current well-being plan out the window or feel overwhelmed with new programming to include; take a step back and ask your workforce what would they benefit from, need, and or enjoy? Create a questionnaire asking how individuals feel about the workplace and what current programs are beneficial. Additionally, you can provide some examples of new programs for the workforce to rank based on their interest and need. This will provide you with a general understanding of what is worth continuing and where to channel your future work and resources. 

Most important, don’t forget you don’t have to have all the answers or expertise; many community partners can support you in creating an inclusive workplace well-being program. 

Keep up the great work engaging individuals and teams of tomorrow,

Joelle M. Monaco

The Side Hustle

From the desk of Leslie Foster

Consultant, trainer, entrepreneur, multi-level marketing; the side hustle. I am fascinated when I meet women who work in mid to high-level positions and who have a side hustle.  I always want to understand what drives them to reinvent themselves outside of their 9-5 or maybe even more so when they have made the leap from the 9 to 5 to working fully for themselves. 

My admiration is great, but sometimes, I feel like I am on the outside looking in and wondering, how did they do that? Did it take a leap of faith?  What was their journey like? Was it a found passion that they started to dabble in, and it grew? Or was it a back-against-the-wall scenario where it was a matter of survival? 

My friend and co-member at the WBC, Karen Lombardo, told me once that going out on her own was the best thing that she had ever done and she has since expanded her website design business into writing peoples’ wedding vows!  Visit Karen’s website for web design, content writing, and of course, wedding vows.

Our VP of Member Services, Marna Redding, unbeknownst to me, started her side hustle a few years ago, and she says, “I’ve been living the faster way lifestyle for almost 2.5 years and have been coaching for 2 years. It’s a lifestyle game changer- sounds overwhelming at first, but it’s the most sustainable lifestyle I’ve found with amazing results. See below!”

The FASTer Way to Fat Loss is a 6-week program that includes meal guides, digital workouts, and me as your coach! We offer LIVE workout videos on-demand training that you will have access to at your fingertips! These on-demand workouts are so amazing! The quick on the FASTer Way is this- it’s an intermittent fasting lifestyle where we cycle in different macro days- low carb, regular macro, and we eat between the hours of 12pm-8pm (or whatever 8hr timeframe works in your day).

Check out my website, and I hope you’ll consider joining me on August 30th for my next round! Register today and get ready to change your life! Just think where you COULD be in 6 weeks!

Emily Dessingue, who currently is the co-chair of the Engagement Committee, was working a full-time job when she started working in real estate on nights and weekends.  Eventually, she made the exciting and nerve-wracking jump to realize her dream and to work solely as an agent, and she hasn’t looked back.  Contact Emily at Berkshire Hathaway.

5 Things(hats) Moms Have Been Wearing During the Pandemic

From the desk of Karen Lombardo is a new Chamber member, and they recently shared two blog posts about how much a mom’s salary value is worth. The pandemic has been in the news and talked about for over 15 months now, but the story has not changed significantly. COVID-19 created a significant setback for women.

According to,

“The pandemic had a near-immediate effect on women’s employment. One in four women are considering leaving the workforce or downshifting their careers versus one in five men. While all women have been impacted, three major groups have experienced some of the largest challenges: working mothers, women in senior management positions, and Black women. This disparity came across as particularly stark with parents of kids under ten: the rate at which women in this group were considering leaving was ten percentage points higher than for men. And women in heterosexual dual-career couples who have children also reported larger increases in their time spent on household responsibilities since the pandemic began.

Despite companies’ efforts to support employees during the crisis, women are feeling more exhausted, burned out, and under pressure than men are, according to the 2020 Women in the Workplace study. This suggests that companies need to do more to adjust the norms and expectations that lead to these feelings.”

How Much is a Mom Really Worth? The Amount May Surprise You.

In their article, states, We all know that moms are the ultimate multi-taskers, juggling lots of different responsibilities all day, every day, but it doesn’t really sink in until you see the full list. This year’s study gave consideration to traditional roles – like housekeeper, dietitian, and facilities director – and newer roles – like network administrator, social media communications. In the end, the mom role includes more than 20 different positions.

We took the articles and spoke with some local moms who listed the top 5 jobs (hats) a mom is wearing now in 2021.

Chief Financial Officer. Moms in conjunction with a spouse or partner manage the day-to-day finances and financial health of the family. In cases where the family was reduced to a single income, this role became particularly challenging.

Chief Operating Officer. This position requires more than a magnetized refrigerator calendar. Moms balanced part-time school days, last-minute quarantines (parents or kids), lack of daycare, and creating a work-life-school time balance.

Chief Technology Officer. How many laptops, tablets, and phones can one internet router support? Hmm, many found out the hard way. Moms became experts with Zoom, Google Meet, and setting up Wi-Fi printers.

Human Resources Manager. Moms have always been experts in conflict management, but COVID challenged even the best negotiator.

Doctor/Nurse (medical, psychological, and Ph.D.)  A mom’s medical experience was challenged beyond running noses and the stomach bug. We tip our hats to moms who themselves had COVID and managed the family and those with kids who had COVID and kept the rest healthy. Mom’s became teachers of many subjects, nutritionists, and counselors.

We are not dismissing dads

With Father’s Day around the corner, we are not dismissing dads or their roles, commitments, and support of their families, spouses, or partners. The documented impact has been significant on women in the workplace, and the long-term effects of this on our economy are yet to be known.

Special thanks to for their posts on and  

Many thanks to for their insight and article.

The Alzheimer’s Association Northeastern N.Y. Offers 5 Ways to Restore Your Mental Well-Being:

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month (ABAM). Worldwide, 50 million people are living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. While Alzheimer’s and dementia affects so many different individuals, there are statistics showing that women are more affected by dementia.  In the United States, approximately 11 million women are either living with Alzheimer’s or caring for someone who has it.  Approximately two-thirds of caregivers are women; more specifically, over one-third of dementia caregivers are daughters. 

To help promote brain health, the Alzheimer’s Association Northeastern New York offers these five suggestions to restore your mental well-being: 

  1. Recommit to Brain-Healthy Basics 

Evidence suggests that healthy behaviors took a back seat for many Americans during the pandemic. Gym memberships were put on hiatus, social engagement became more challenging and many Americans swapped out healthful eating for their favorite comfort foods, take-out meals and frequent snacking while working remotely. One study published recently found participants gained nearly 1.5 pounds per month over the past year, on average.

The Alzheimer’s Association — through its U.S. POINTER Study — is examining the role lifestyle interventions, including diet, may play in protecting cognitive function. Right now, many experts agree that people can improve their brain health and reduce the risk of cognitive decline by adopting healthy lifestyle habits, preferably in combination, including: 

  • Exercise regularly — Regular cardiovascular exercise helps increase blood flow to the body and brain, and there is strong evidence that regular physical activity is linked to better memory and thinking. 
  • Maintain a heart-healthy diet — Stick to a meal schedule full of fruits and vegetables to ensure a well-balanced diet. Some evidence suggests a healthful diet is linked to cognitive performance. The Mediterranean and DASH diets are linked to better cognitive functioning, and help reduce risk of heart disease as well.
  • Get proper sleep — Maintaining a regular, uninterrupted sleep pattern benefits physical and psychological health, and helps clear waste from the brain. Adults should get at least seven hours of sleep each night and try to keep a routine bedtime. 
  • Stay socially and mentally active — Meaningful social engagement may support cognitive health, so stay connected with friends and family. Engage your mind by doing activities that stump you, like completing a jigsaw puzzle or playing strategy games. Or challenge yourself further by learning a new language or musical instrument.
  1. Return to Normal at Your Own Pace 

Many Americans are eager for a return to normal life following the pandemic, but others are anxious. In fact, one recent survey found that nearly half of adults (49%) report feeling uncomfortable about returning to in-person interactions when the pandemic ends. For those feeling anxious, the Alzheimer’s Association suggests taking small steps. It may also be important to set boundaries and communicate your preferences to others in your social circles. 

  1. Help Others 

There is evidence to suggest that helping others during the pandemic may not only make you feel better, but it may be good for you as well. Research shows that helping others in a crisis can be an effective way to alleviate stress and anxiety. One study published during the pandemic found that adults over age 50 who volunteer for about two hours per week have a substantially reduced risk of dying, higher levels of physical activity and an improved sense of well-being. To help others and yourself during June and throughout the year, volunteer in your community, run errands or deliver meals to a home-bound senior or donate to a favorite cause, such as supporting participants in the Alzheimer’s Association’s The Longest Day event on June 20. 

  1. Unplug and Disconnect 

Technology has dominated our daily lives during the pandemic like never before. While technology has kept us connected through COVID-19, it has also created fatigue for many Americans. Experts warn that excessive stimulation coming from our phones, computers, social media sources and news reports can add to our already heightened anxiety levels. To avoid technology overload, experts advise setting limits on your screen time, avoid carrying your phone everywhere, and disconnecting from digital devices at bedtime. 

  1. Control Your Stress Before it Controls You

In small doses, stress teaches the brain how to respond in healthy ways to the unexpected, inconvenient or unpleasant realities of daily life. Prolonged or repeated stress, however, can wear down and damage the brain, leading to serious health problems including depression, anxiety disorders, memory loss and increased risk for dementia. Reports indicate that Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers are especially vulnerable to physical and emotional stress. The Alzheimer’s Association offers tips to help manage caregiver stress. Meditation, exercise, listening to music or returning to a favorite activity you have missed during the pandemic are just some ways to manage stress. Do what works best for you.

WEB: 24/7 Helpline: 800.272.3900

New York State Food Summit

Thank you to everyone who participated in or joined us at this year’s New York State Food Summit presented by SEFCU! We had over 300 people join us virtually from all over the country to take part in the NYS Food Summit this year and we greatly appreciate all your time, insight, and your patience with us at our first virtual conference.

For a full list of participants, see the event program on our website here:

As a reminder, please use our Food Connect Statewide Map to help connect people to community-based food assistance programs and basic resources throughout New York State. This map and its data are available for any person or organization to use to help more New Yorkers and can be accessed here:

And if you have not already, join us in the New York State Community Food Assistance Network as we collectively elevate the voice of hunger relief programs. We are a chorus of friends, neighbors, families, an entire community, and the community-based food assistance providers who help make sure all New Yorkers have access with dignity to high-quality nutritional food. To find out more call 518-458-1167 or email

The recordings from the NYS Food Summit are available on the event platform and The Food Pantries’ YouTube Channel here:

Speakers & attendees can continue accessing the NYS Food Summit online to retrieve resources or connect with other attendees and speakers on the streaming platform. The event will remain accessible until May of 2022 here:

Working together we can continue to root a food-secure state in a way that treats everyone with the dignity and respect they deserve. We are all stronger because of your input and participation and honored to partner with all of you in this work!