This organization started out as everything else does, as an idea. The idea started in 1998 when the founder, a domestic violence survivor herself, arrived at her forth shelter after spending two years running. She heard many stories while sitting in group sessions with other survivors. Dozens of stories about sleeping on the street, hitchhiking for rides, asking bus drives to ride for free, and many days spent walking. All of these things done usually with small children in tow. All of these things done in an effort to leave violence and get to a shelter. But she also heard some of the frustration from the shelters who wanted to help get these women and children off the street. Cases where the only help a shelter or county program could give was $3 in bus fare for a family of 4 trying to go 50 miles away, not enough gas for the shelter minivan to go more than 10 miles to pick someone up, or no resources at all to help someone trying to get to them. She learned that the long walk from violence to freedom could be literal.
There were positive stories as well. Stories of how a stranger paid for 5 nights in a motel for a family who was sleeping in a bus station because the shelter was full, a bus driver who after getting off work drove a family the remaining 45 miles to get them to a shelter, and a shelter donor paying for 5 cross country airplane tickets so a family could be safe. Hearing these things made her very thankful for random acts of kindness, but it also made her think why should it be random? Why should help like this be “miracles”?
The seed for the idea of helping with transportation was formed. The one commonality that all stories had was the difficult journey in getting to a shelter. Some stories of the journey were simple and straightforward, while others were terrifying in ways that one can barely fathom. After hearing these stories our founder made a vow to one day start a program where helping to save a life from domestic violence is not a random act of kindness.
Many years have gone by, but The Milligan Foundation was formally launched in 2011. The ultimate goal of the project is to become a global resource for domestic violence. This goal is lofty by any standard, but to our founder, anything less would mean leaving someone behind.
Since our 2011 launch we have made over 300 connections with shelters, shelter coalitions, and domestic violence resource providers. These programs represent services in 28 states, and 10 countries throughout Europe and Africa. In 2012 we helped 26 people to safety, in 2013 we provided transportation to 89 individuals and families, and in 2014 we were able to help over 200 people get to safety.
The Milligan Foundation believes that everyone deserves the ability to be happy at home. Much too often a peaceful home life is not what is considered normal. Many people across the globe live in fear of a husband, wife, parent, brother, or sister. Domestic violence isn’t limited to those we have chosen to become partners in our lives, it can be our families as well.
The ultimate goal of the Milligan Foundation is to empower people who are trapped in violent and abusive relationships throughout the world. To encourage them have confidence in themselves, and to find inner strength to become leaders in their own lives, and claim their right to individual happiness and freedom for themselves and their families.