The Inside Story On SWWLS Nov26

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The Inside Story On SWWLS

Written by Stephanie Lacy | Region Metroplex :: 

Dianne Samoff, Founder of SWWLS, shares how The Society of Women Who Love Shoes all began. 

Q: You do such great work for the greater DFW area, explain what SWWLS is all about?
A: SWWLS is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to benefit of families of abuse. We have monthly networking events and take donations of shoes, clothing, and small items, which we deliver to shelters for abuse from Garland to Fort Worth. In the winter months we ask for blankets and coats, and closer the Christmas, we ask for gifts for children. Throughout the year we ask for school supplies, paper goods, etc. We are working closer with some of the local shelters to see what their needs are and how SWWLS can help.

Q: What makes you so passionate about the issue of abuse?
A: Personally, I was in an abusive marriage for 10 years before it ended. But now I have been married to a wonderful man for almost 29 years and my nightmares just stopped waking me up two years ago. Sometimes people think that if an abused person is no longer in that relationship, then he/she should just move on and forget about it, but it’s not always that easy. I will never tell anyone it is an easy road, but I try to remind them of a couple things: 1) You are not in this alone; there is help… and 2) Above all things, God your Heavenly Father loves you and will get you through this. Also, I have learned that abuse comes in many forms. Children abusing each other, men and women abusing each other, and so on. The abuse can be emotional, mental, physical, and/or sexual. Some women have called and said… “You know, I did not realize I was being abused and I was embarrassed to speak out because I had no bruises.”

Q: What is it that led you to start such a cause driven organization?
A: After dating for three years and never being abused, on our third day of marriage my ex-husband busted my mouth and that went on for 10 very long years. When I finally left the marriage, I borrowed a suit and a red pair of high heels for a job interview. And yes, I got the job! To this day, this is why I use the red high heel icon in our logo. This is also why we use the slogan “Healing Families of Abuse One Sole at a Time.”™ So having lived that life and knowing a little bit about what others are experiencing, greatly contributes to the reason why I do the work that I do. It is truly my passion.

We need to get abuse out of the dark and into the light. 1 in 4 women will experience abuse in her lift time. We need to reach out and teach children when they are young that abuse in any form is not acceptable. The new cyber abuse, children abusing each other, it is no longer just abuse in adult lives. Some people say… “Well she must have grown up in that type of life.” Actually no, my parents have been married 60 years, and they have never separated. Some people will also say… “Well she must like it or enjoy it or she would leave.” Again the answer is no. When you are in that life you are struggling to survive. You are not thinking of how to get out or that there is a better life. My poor dear Daddy still has such a difficult time with it, from time to time he will ask… “Why did you stay?” I tell people we all the time, that people who have been abused are kind of like an alcoholic. We have to be ready to leave. But until then, just be there to love us while we are going through it and be there to love and pick us up when we finally leave and work to start a new life.

I finally left for our children (3 boys and 1 daughter). And when we left, it was with the clothes on our backs, no car, no furniture, not much at all. My parents helped me get a car and helped me with my children until I could save enough money for an apartment. But some are not that lucky, some have to leave in the middle of the night and go to a shelter where they know no one. Just think, you leave in the middle of the night with your babies, no pacifier for your baby, no formula, and no change of clothes. Can you just imagine how it feels? The (co-called) love of your life has just beaten you and now you are running scared for your life and the life of your children.

Q: Tell us about your events. What are they like?
A: When you come to a SWWLS event, you will typically pay an entrance fee of $10.00 and make a donation of new or gently used shoes or clothing. As the ladies enter the event, they are given a slip of paper to walk around and judge the Best Tie on a man. When a man wearing a tie enters the event, they have the opportunity to walk around and judge all of the ladies high heels for Sexiest Shoes, Highest Heels, and Most Unique Shoes. Our events or non-frightening. You can come alone and all you have to do is walk up to someone and say… “Nice shoes!” And just like that, a conversation starts.

When we first started the networking events, it was for women only, but then men were asking if they could attend, and that’s when we decided to let them do the judging of the ladies contests, and we added the category for Best Tie for men. We get so many compliments from guests after their first time attending one of our events. They typically say something like… “You know, I had never attended before and I had no one to come with me, but everyone was so warm and welcoming.” In this atmosphere it allows guests that have been abused in one way or another to feel comfortable to walk up to me or one of the wonderful volunteers and open up and even ask to get involved. You will find that our events are very interactive and fun.

Q:  What are some of the future goals for SWWLS
A: Our future goals include holding classes and seminars to help spread the awareness of abuse, and how it comes in many forms. Also one day we would like to work towards having churches speak about abuse in October, which is National Domestic Violence Month. Abuse is an epidemic that is not prejudice. It is neither black or white, young or old, male or female, gay or straight, nor rich or poor. Simply put, abuse is abuse and it is an epidemic. We would also like to open a thrift store one day and hire some of the families in the shelters to work. Eventually one day, we would like to give out scholarships to children that are very deserving. I believe we have the ability to one day be a Nation Wide organization with Chapters in every major city. Other goals include creating a service which helps find a safe and decent place for families when all the shelters are full. And believe me; they are more full than empty. Recently I had a meeting with one shelter and their back log of women with children needing a place to stay was nearly 600. Yes 600! Needless to say, we need help. One day you will see Purple everywhere you go in the month of October. One day have a book out.

Q: How can people who want to help get involved and what are some of your needs?
A: You can find me on Facebook at: Dianne Kelly Samoff, or you can like our fan page on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/SWWLS.Dallas. You can leave us a message or you can visit our official website at: www.SocietyOfWomenWhoLoveShoes.org, where we have an online contact form you can complete. As for our needs, Here are a few: volunteers, money, people to get more involved, help with deliveries to the shelters, multi-media assistance and, a storage facility. We also need people to donate: emergency kits with a few diapers, coupons for formula, baby socks, rush, toiletries, tampons, socks, flip flops, tooth brush and paste, deodorant, etc. We always need more baby items, pj’s for mom, house slippers, school supplies, paper goods, and clothes. As you can see our needs are many, so please help and get involved anyway you can.

We are also looking for more doctors and attorneys to get involved. I have talked to so many women that leave a very good lifestyle but when they leave, usually all the money stays there and they have no money to fight for a divorce or fight for custody of their children. We also have women who call and need their teeth fixed from abuse or those who even have broken bones. I can go on and on. Remember to love those around you. People often say… “You don’t look like someone who was abused.” Well, we learn how to hide our bruises. We smile, put on a happy face for you and our children; but all the while, we are the ones who feel embarrassed, when actually, the abuser should be the one who is embarrassed.

Q: How can people reach SWWLS and when are your future events?
A: You can always email me at: Dianne.Samoff@sbcglobal.net or call me at: 832-596-6743. We are in the process of working on a DASH that we hope to have in April as that is the National Abuse Against Children month. Next year we hope to have our First Annual Gala. We are also working on many other events and seminars to get the awareness out. We are always looking for donations to give away or for our silent auction at our events. If you would like to donate gifts for our events and get your name mentioned at the events and on Facebook, please contact us.

Remember… Don’t’ Do It… Don’t Take It… and Don’t Suffer in Silence!


CONTACT SWWLS