KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — As Domestic Violence Awareness Month continues, there is a way out for survivors who want to get out of their situation but believe they don’t have the money or time.
Chad Jacob, who locally owns and manages the moving and hauling company College Hunks in Kalamazoo, said domestic abuse is an issue that hits close to home.
“My mother … was abused for many, many years,” he explained. “Growing up, I watched it. I’ve seen it all the way back to 5 years old.”
Through the company’s Safe Moves, Strong Voices initiative, which offers moving free of charge to domestic violence survivors, Jacob and his team want to make sure those who need a way out have that choice.
The process starts when someone reaches out to a local shelter, who will contact College Hunks to begin coordinating the move. Then, College Hunks will work with them to assess unique needs and create a personalized plan.
Materials, labor and transportation are all free and can be as soon as same-day.
“We make it as easy possible for them, because we know that confidentiality is a huge key to all of this,” Jacob said.
According to the YWCA, 90% of survivors say finances and logistics were a major obstacle when leaving the relationship.
“Having resources, like College Hunks, that offer free or little cost to victims at often the most dangerous time in the relationship is critical to them leaving safely,” Sherry Brockway, who serves as the director of emergency response services for YWCA Kalamazoo, said. “Often when they leave the relationship, they have no resources, no financial assistance. So, it just gives them hope and empowerment that the community cares and they can leave safely.”
It is something, Jacob said, that gives him an immense sense of gratitude.
“To see the relief on the individual’s face when they are able to get out of there, once you see us load it up, you can just see a weight lifted off of them. And it just makes you smile,” he said. “This is an opportunity for me to give back to the people that don’t feel that they have a voice. So, (to) people (who) feel that they are stuck, (we’re) telling them that you’re not stuck. We’re here to help get you out of that bad situation.”