WISE to the rescue

Local support system helps people in need

If you ever find yourself in harm’s way, there’s a place in Big Rapids where you can find help.

Women’s Information Services, Inc. (WISE) exists to help those who find themselves facing dangerous situations related to domestic abuse and sexual assault.

Ferris alumna and executive director of Women’s Information Services Kelly Samuels prefers to call it by its acronym, “WISE.”

“I don’t like calling it Women’s Information Services because, though it might be a lesser extent, we help men too,” Samuels said.

WISE encourages speaking out about violence and offers many safety options to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. WISE also seeks to empower individuals and families to get the help they need. WISE works toward strengthening the Big Rapids community through awareness, prevention and education about abuse.

Their mission statement says that, because domestic violence and sexual abuse affects entire families, anybody in need of WISE’s services is welcome. One of their main focuses is holding accountable the person responsible for the abuse.

“We get women coming in in a lot of different situations,” Samuels said, “and that makes a difference in how we deal with them. We visit women in the hospital directly after the assault, and we’ve also dealt with adult victims of childhood abuse.”

In order to operate, WISE takes community volunteers. A volunteer at WISE could be given such tasks as providing transportation for those in need, assisting with group activities, or sponsoring clothing and food drives for the victims. Volunteers would also have contact with victims through the crisis help line.

WISE is a nonprofit organization. While they do accept donations through their website, they stress that all of their services to victims are both free and completely confidential.

WISE’s 24-hour crisis line can be reached at 1-800-374-WISE (9473). If you are encountering an emergency, they urge you to call 911. For more information about WISE, visit wiseagainstviolence.org.